Coronavirus Germany: Merkel to close borders with France, Austria and Switzerland

Germany is shutting its borders with France, Austria and Switzerland from Monday morning, Bild reported. It has not been confirmed if the country’s other borders including those with Poland, Denmark, the Netherlands and the Czech Republic will be closed.

It comes as countries around the world are ramping up measures to stop the spread of Covid-19.

There have been 4,599 confirmed cases of the deadly virus in Germany, with nine deaths.

Italy, which is Europe’s worst-hit country, and Spain have ordered nationwide lockdowns.

US President Donald Trump has imposed a travel ban from 26 European countries, with the UK and Ireland set to be added to the list on Monday.

In response, Britain has advised against “all but essential travel” to the US.

A Foreign Office spokesman said: “We are advising against all but essential travel to the USA following the US government announcement imposing restrictions on travel from the UK (and Ireland) effective from midnight on Monday March 16 EST (4am GMT on Tuesday March 17).

“British nationals with journeys planned and citizens already in the US are advised to contact their airlines or tour operators.”

In other coronavirus developments in the UK, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said elderly people will be asked in the coming weeks to self-isolate for up to four months to protect them from the killer bug.

He also confirmed that ministers were seeking to give police powers to arrest and forcibly quarantine people who have the illness but are not self-isolating.

He told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show: “We are going to take the powers to make sure that we can quarantine people if they are a risk to public health, yes, and that’s important.

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“I doubt that actually we will need to use it much, because people have been very responsible.”

He added that coronavirus is “a very significant challenge” that will “disrupt the lives of almost everybody” in the UK.

He told Sky’s Sophy Ridge On Sunday: “The measures that we’re taking, the measures that we’re looking at taking, are very, very significant and they will disrupt the ordinary lives of almost everybody in the country in order to tackle this virus.”

Boris Johnson will urge manufacturers to shift their production lines to build ventilators for the NHS.

And the Government is in talks with private hospitals about the possibility of taking over beds.

There could also be a shift to household isolation rather than individual self-isolation.

Mr Hancock said: “Our generation has never been tested like this.

“Our grandparents were, during the Second World War, when our cities were bombed during the Blitz.

“Despite the pounding every night, the rationing, the loss of life, they pulled together in one gigantic national effort.

“Today our generation is facing its own test, fighting a very real and new disease.”

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