More than 3,000 people have now tested positive for the coronavirus in Italy. As the death toll passed 100 on Wednesday, the Italian government published its new emergency decree spelling out measures aimed at halting the spread of the coronavirus, including nationwide school closures.
In the decree, the Italian government included recommendations on public behavioural changes, issued by the government's special scientific committee on Coronavirus, which it hopes everyone in the country will follow.
The guidelines include an end to kissing and hugging your friends, and a recommendation that all over-75s should stay at home.
No more baci e abbracci
The famous Italian habit of kissing and hugging friends and acquaintances (and in some areas, people you've just met) will have to stop for the next month, the committee has decreed. Handshakes are out, too.
Keep your distance
The official advice states that people should avoid crowded places and keep “at least one metre” away from anyone else at all times.
Per la prevenzione ed il contrasto del contagio da #coronavirus è importante la collaborazione di tutti. Segui e condividi queste semplici raccomandazioni.
Aiutiamoci l'uno con l'altro. Insieme ce la facciamo.https://t.co/gh4F4alerJ#covid19italia #Covid19 pic.twitter.com/1sWUVTZkrk
— Ministero Salute (@MinisteroSalute) March 6, 2020
Self-isolate if you have any symptoms
Anyone showing even mild symptoms of potential coronavirus infection is advised to stay at home.
Do not go straight to a hospital or doctor's surgery. In Italy, you can call the government's coronavirus hotline on 1500 for emergency advice in English, Italian or Chinese.
Over-75s should stay at home
The official advise is for all over '75s to stay at home and “avoid social contact”. Anyone over the age of 65 with health problems and people with respiratory conditions have also been advised to stay at home.
Don't share glasses
The guidelines also warn not to drink from the same cups, glasses or bottles as anyone else “especially during sporting events”.
New restrictions on hospital visitors
This month people will no longer be allowed to accompany friends or relatives into the emergency room and there will also be more restirctions on visitors to private clinics and retirement homes.
Sporting events closed to the public
One of the least popular rules, and one which can actually be enforced, is a ban on public attendance at all sporting events.
“We have to work for the country by staying within the rules and adopting lifestyles that halt the classic paths of transmission,” stated Silvio Brusaferro, the president of Italy's higher health institute, on Wednesday.
The warnings are in place for the whole of Italy for the next 30 days, though they will be re-evaluated every 15 days.
These rules are in addition to the basic hygiene advice previously issued by the Italian government.
Italian Health Ministry advice on #coronavirus:
– wash hands often
– avoid contact with people with respiratory problems
– don't touch eyes/nose/mouth
– cover mouth+nose when coughing
– don't take any medication unless prescribed
– products made in China are NOT dangerous https://t.co/4yvfaHrQuQ
— The Local Italy (@TheLocalItaly) February 24, 2020
Civil protection authorities are also setting set up tents in front of some hospitals to make sure suspected coronavirus cases do not come into contact with other patients.
According to the WHO, around 80 percent of people who contract the new coronavirus recover without needing special treatment.
Around one out of every six people who gets COVID-19 becomes seriously ill and develops difficulty breathing.
Only around two percent of cases are fatal. Older people and those with underlying medical problems like high blood pressure, heart problems or diabetes, are more likely to develop serious illness.
Find all The Local's coverage of the coronavirus outbreak in Italy here.