Schools shut down in several European countries

PARIS (AP) — Tens of thousands of students in virus cluster zones are home from school in France on Tuesday, with a smaller number in Germany and Poland facing quarantines or days without class.

France's education minister, Jean-Michel Blanquer, said around 120 schools have been ordered to close, most in Brittany and the Oise region north of Paris, which have been hit hard by COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus. He told LCI television it was probable that more schools could close and confirmed that he had ordered a freeze on all school trips. But he cautioned against rushing to a general shutdown of the education system.

“It wouldn’t make sense to confine everyone at home, to paralyze the country,” he said.


Italy closed schools in the hard-hit regions of Lombardy and Veneto last week and the closure of schools in Emilia Romagna was announced last weekend. All student outings have been canceled nationwide, including off-site after-school activities. In addition, a handful of schools are closed or under quarantine in Germany and even in Poland, which has no confirmed cases of the disease so far.

Meanwhile, Ukraine on Tuesday reported its first confirmed case of the new virus in a man who had recently arrived from Italy.

As the new coronavirus takes hold in Europe, the continent is facing the same complications seen in Asia weeks ago, including a cruise ship with hundreds of passengers now trapped in Norway.


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In Haugesund, southern Norway, a German cruise ship with 1,200 passengers was waiting for the test results of two passengers who had been on land to be tested for the virus, Norwegian broadcaster NRK said. The Aida Aura was supposed to have left harbor Monday but was still in Haugesund Tuesday and passengers were being kept on board.

Travelers from northern Italy, along with South Korea and Iran, now face a ban in Singapore and will not be allowed entry or even to transit in the country. And Saudi Arabia advised citizens and residents to postpone travel to Germany and France due to the spread of the coronavirus in those countries.

The Geneva International Motor Show resorted to putting automakers' product unveilings and news conferences online Tuesday after this year's show was canceled. BMW presented its sleek i4 electric concept car at a digital news conference from Munich, while competitors Daimler and Volkswagen held their own online events.