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Sunday, March 8, 2020

Italy Locks Down 16 Million People In The North In Drastic Bid To Curb Coronavirus Spread

Without a "serious" reason that cannot be postponed, people will not be allowed to enter or leave the quarantine zones 

Italy, Covid-19

More than 16 million people were placed under forced quarantine in northern Italy early on Sunday as the government approved drastic measures in an attempt to halt the spread of the deadly coronavirus that is sweeping the globe.

Shortly after midnight, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte signed a decree affecting the country's prosperous north, including the Lombardy region and at least 15 provinces in neighbouring regions. The extraordinary measures will be in place until April 3.

"For Lombardy and for the other northern provinces that I have listed there will be a ban for everybody to move in and out of these territories and also within the same territory," Mr Conte said. "Exceptions will be allowed only for proven professional needs, exceptional cases and health issues."

With more than 230 fatalities, Italy has recorded the most deaths from the Covid-19 disease of any country outside China, where the outbreak began in December.



Italy on Saturday saw its biggest daily increase in coronavirus cases since the outbreak began in the north of the country on Feb. 21.

In its daily update, Italy's civil protection agency said the number of people with the coronavirus rose by 1,247 in the last 24 hours, taking the total to 5,883.

Without a "serious" reason that cannot be postponed, such as urgent work or family issues, people will not be allowed to enter or leave the quarantine zones, Corriere Della Sera reported.

These include the entire Lombardy region as well as Venice and its surrounding areas, and the cities of Parma and Rimini - affecting a quarter of Italy's population of 60 million.

Museums, nightclubs, gyms and casinos will be closed in these places, with people advised to stay at home as much as possible, the newspaper said, adding that the restrictions would be in place until April 3.

People will be allowed to return home from outside these regions, while bars and restaurants are allowed to remain open provided it is possible for customers to stay a metre (three feet) away from one another.


There was chaos and confusion in the northern Italian city of Padua in the Veneto region as word spread late on Saturday evening that the government was planning to announce the quarantine.

Packed bars and restaurants quickly emptied out as many people rushed to the train station in Padua. Travelers with suitcases, wearing face masks, gloves and carrying bottles of sanitizing gel shoved their way on to trains.

Before Conte signed the quarantine decree, Stefano Bonaccini, president of the Emilia Romagna region, said parts of the decree were confusing, and he asked the premier for more time to come up with solutions that were more "coherent."

After the city of Venice cancelled its cherished Carnival and governments warned citizens against travel to Italy, the country is facing a possible recession. Hotel occupancy rates in the lagoon city are down to 1%-2%.

"The surface of the Grand Canal is like glass because the boats that transport merchandise are not there. On the vaporetti (water buses), there are only five or six people," Stefania Stea, vice president of the Venice hoteliers association, said.

Italy has the world's second oldest population after Japan, according to the World Bank, and older people appear to be more vulnerable to becoming severely ill with the new coronavirus.

The measures echo those taken in China's central Hubei province, whose nearly 60 million residents have been under lockdown since late January when the government rushed to put a lid on the virus that first emerged in the regional capital, Wuhan.

Worldwide, the total number of people with Covid-19 has passed 100,000 while 3,500 have died across 95 nations and territories.

[By Telegraph]

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