Europe is now the “epicentre” of the global coronavirus pandemic, the head of the World Health Organization says.
Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus urged countries to use aggressive measures, community mobilisation and social distancing to save lives.
“Do not just let this fire burn,” he said.
His comments came as several European countries reported steep rises in infections and deaths. Italy has recorded its highest daily toll yet.
There were 250 deaths recorded over the past 24 hours, taking the total to 1,266, with 17,660 infections overall.
Spain, the worst-affected European country after Italy, reported a 50% jump in fatalities to 120 on Friday. Infections increased to 4,231.
Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez says a state of alert will come into effect there on Saturday for two weeks.
Why Europe could be worse off than China
The number of cases of coronavirus reported every day in Europe has surpassed China at its peak.
But Europe is in a worse position.
The overwhelming majority of China’s cases were in one place, Hubei province and those were largely concentrated in one city, Wuhan.
It was dealt with by an authoritarian government that imposed the biggest quarantine in human history.
While there are hotspots in Europe, this is an outbreak across a continent and different countries are adopting very different strategies for dealing with coronavirus.
All these figures are based on cases that have been detected, but scientists fear there could be large outbreaks going on unnoticed in countries that don’t have the tools to spot them.