'Europe is now the epicenter': WHO

(SOUNDBITE) (English) WHO DIRECTOR GENERAL TEDROS ADHANOM GHEBREYESUS SAYING:

"Europe has now become the epicenter of the pandemic with more reported cases and deaths than the rest of the world combined, apart from China. More cases are now being reported everyday than were reported in China at the height of its epidemic."

The World Health Organization is warning that not only is Europe now the worst hit by the coronavirus contagion, surpassing Asia, but that it would also be a quote "deadly mistake" for other countries to think it couldn't happen to them.

In France, it's the last day of class for school children, after President Emmanuel Macron called for the closure of all nurseries, school and universities -- until further notice.

Orchestras played to empty concert halls in Germany and Czech pubs are turning off the beer taps at the start of a 30-day state of emergency.

European leaders have warned that things will get worse before they get better.

In Italy, where the death toll passed 1,000 in Europe's deadliest outbreak, the government has imposed a blanket closure of restaurants, bars and almost all shops except food stores and pharmacies.

Not such drastic measures over in the UK, though - where cases reached almost 800 on Friday (March 12).

(SOUNDBITE) (English) BRITISH PRIME MINISTER, BORIS JOHNSON, SAYING:

"More families, many more families, are going to lose loved ones before their time.''

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said a day earlier that the priority is to "delay the peak and to push the peak down" in order to prevent the NHS from being overwhelmed.

Experts say they are adopting a "staged" approach, not bringing in more stringent measures until the infection rate increases "significantly", which may not happen until a "few weeks" from now.

It's thought the United Kingdom is about four weeks behind Italy and other European countries.

While the government has faced some criticism for appearing complacent, for now, the message - in Britain at least - remains: "Keep calm and carry on."