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Coronavirus: Italy extends strict quarantine measures nationwide

Italy is extending its coronavirus quarantine measures, which include a ban on public gatherings, to the entire country.

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said that people would only be permitted to travel for work or family emergencies.

He said the measures, which come into effect on Tuesday, were to defend the most fragile members of society.

Italy’s coronavirus death toll jumped on Monday by 97 to 463. It is the worst-hit country after China.

The number of confirmed infections also increased to 9,172, up from 7,375 on Sunday, official figures show.

Cases of the virus have been confirmed in all 20 Italian regions.

What did Mr Conte say?

In a televised address on Monday, Mr Conte said that Italy’s “customs must change” and that the best thing was for people to stay at home.

“We’re having an important growth in infection… and of deaths,” he said.

“We all must give something up for the good of Italy. We have to do it now, and we’ll only be able if we all collaborate and adapt to these more stringent measures.

“This is why I decided to adopt even more strong and severe measures to contain the advance… and protect the health of all citizens.”

The prime minister added that all sporting events – including football matches – were being suspended nationwide.

In an earlier interview with La Repubblica newspaper, Mr Conte said of the outbreak: “These days, I have been thinking about the old speeches of [Winston] Churchill – it is our darkest hour, but we will make it”.

What are the restrictions?

Mr Conte described the measures as “I stay home” – with people forbidden to assemble in public.

“No more nightlife; we can’t allow this anymore since they are occasions for contagion,” he said.

The restrictions are similar to those earlier applied to the worst affected Lombardy region, and 14 other provinces.

The government has said only those with a valid work or family reason that cannot be postponed will be permitted to travel.

Passengers departing on flights, except temporary visitors, will have to justify themselves, as will all those arriving by plane.

There are controls at train stations to check temperatures.

Cruise ships are forbidden to dock at various ports.

What else is happening in Italy?

Earlier on Monday, six inmates died amid riots at prisons across the country after authorities suspended all visits as part of attempts to control the spread of the disease.

The trouble began in the northern city of Modena after inmates at the Sant’Anna prison were told that all visits had been suspended.

Three people were reported to have died at the prison, while a further three died after being transferred from there.

It is thought that at least two of the dead lost their lives to drug overdoses after they raided a prison hospital for the heroin substitute methadone.

At San Vittore prison in Milan, detainees set fire to a cell block on one of the facility’s six wings, then climbed onto the roof through windows and started waving banners, officials said.

At a prison in the southern city of Foggia, about 20 inmates managed to break out of the building during protests. Many were quickly recaptured, Italy’s Ansa news agency reported.

There were also riots at several other prisons in northern Italy and at facilities in Naples and the capital, Rome.

What is the situation elsewhere?

The number of infections worldwide is now more than 111,000, with about 3,890 deaths.

Everyone arriving in Israel will be required to self-quarantine for 14 days, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced.

Iran has reported 43 new deaths related to the disease in the past 24 hours. At least 237 people have died and 7,161 have been infected across the country since mid-February, although the real figures are believed to be far higher.

China, which has recorded the highest number of fatalities, reported just 40 new cases of Covid-19, the lowest since 20 January.

Although this indicates that the spread there is slowing, senior officials warned against reducing vigilance.

Cases of coronavirus in Europe
Cases of coronavirus outside China

In other developments:

  • The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that the threat of a pandemic is “very real”
  • Canada has confirmed the first death related to the virus – an elderly male patient in a care home in Vancouver, British Columbia
  • In France, Culture Minister Franck Riester has become the first member of the government to be infected with the virus. His team said he had spent several days of the past week in parliament, where a number of other cases have been confirmed
  • In the US, the number of confirmed cases now exceeds 500
  • A cruise ship carrying thousands of people who were stranded for days due to a coronavirus outbreak is reported to have docked at the port of Oakland, near San Francisco.

Source: BBC


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