Italy Quarantines 16 Million People as Coronavirus Deaths, New Infections Soar

Italy Quarantines 16 Million People as Coronavirus Deaths, New Infections Soar

Lombardy with its 10 million people, and 14 other northern provinces are affected.

A quarter of Italy’s population, or about 16 million people, was quarantined in a radical measure to combat the spread of the coronavirus as the country saw a spike in both the inflections and the deaths from the respective disease COVID-19.

The quarantine is in force for a total of 15 provinces in Northern Italy: Lombardy, Modena, Parma, Piacenza, Reggio Emilia, Rimini, Pesaro and Urbino, Alessandria, Asti, Novara, Verbano Cusio Ossola, Vercelli, Padua, Treviso and Venice.

Anyone living in those provinces, which include the cities of Milan and Venice, will need special permissions to travel.

The most radical measures against the spread of the coronavirus outside of the China also provide for the closure of schools, gyms, museums, nightclubs and other venues across the whole country. They will be in place until April 3.

“We want to guarantee the health of our citizens. We understand that these measures will impose sacrifices, sometimes small and sometimes very big,” Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said as he announced the measures in the middle of the night, as cited by BBC News.

“There will be no movement in or out of these areas, or within them, unless for proven work-related reasons, emergencies or health reasons,” Conte told reporters.

“We are facing an emergency, a national emergency. We have to limit the spread of the virus and prevent our hospitals from being overwhelmed,” he stated.

EU member Italy has seen the largest number of coronavirus infections in Europe. The health system in Lombardy in particular, which accounts for some 10 million people, has been severely strained, with people getting treated in hospital corridors.

Later on Sunday, Italy’s Civil Protection agency released new figures showing that the number of coronavirus deaths had shot up by 133 in a single day, bringing the overall total of 366.

At the same time, the total number of infections spiked by 25%, to 7,375, up from 5,883 the day before.

The latest figures have made Italy second only to China in the number of confirmed infections outside China, where the coronavirus outbreak originated in December.

Italy has overtaken South Korea, where the total number of coronavirus cases was 7,313 on Sunday.

Among the latest people to test positive is the chief of staff of the Italian army, Salvatore Farina.

Italy’s national airline carrier Alitalia said it would suspend all operations from Milan’s Malpensa airport from Monday, whereas Milan’s other airport, Linate, would only serve domestic routes. International flights would continue to and from Rome.

(Banner image: Video grab from Twitter)

Ivan Dikov is a Bulgarian journalist and author. He studied political science / international relations and history at Dartmouth College and later in Sofia, in the Eastern Balkans. He’s served for five years as the editor-in-chief of Bulgaria’s largest English-language media – Novinite.com. As a freelancer, he has collaborated with media from the US, the UK, Germany, and Australia.

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