Whole of Italy placed on lockdown as 97 more coronavirus patients die

Italian PM Giuseppe Conte announced on Monday that special measures will be imposed across the whole country including travel restrictions and a ban on gatherings in a bid to stem the spread of coronavirus (Paywall Free).

Whole of Italy placed on lockdown as 97 more coronavirus patients die
Rome's Colosseum is one of the tourist sites closed because of the coronavirus outbreak in Italy. Photo: Alberto Pizzoli/AFP

The measures had initially been imposed on certain regions in the north like Lombardy which has seen the biggest outbreak of the virus.

But on Monday evening, after it was announced the death toll had risen by 97 to 463, the prime minister said the measures would be imposed nationwide.

Those measures include banning all public gatherings and stopping travel other than for work and emergencies. 

“Today is our moment of responsibility. We cannot let our guard down,” Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said. 

“Everyone must give up something to protect the health of citizens.”

The prime minister urged people to “stay at home”.

Weddings and funerals were banned for more than three weeks although religious institutions will stay open and bars and restaurants were told to close at 6pm. Customers had to stay a metre apart. 

Conte said the measures, which will affect 60 million people, were needed to protect the country’s most vulnerable and people should now stay at home, Reuters news agency said. Businesses were urged to give their employees leave.

The decree came into force on Tuesday morning.

All sporting events will be suspended including Italy’s Serie A football league.

“I am going to sign a decree that can be summarised as follows: I stay at home,” Conte announced in a dramatic evening television address.

“The whole of Italy will become a protected zone,” he said.

Travel in and out of the country as well as movement between cities will be restricted.

But it was not immediately clear how all these measures will be imposed.

Trains and numerous flights continued to operate into and out of Milan on Monday despite the earlier set of restrictions for its Lombardy region.

The government had already moved to close schools and universities across the country as well as cinemas, theatres and gyms.

Another 1,897 cases were confirmed in the past 24 hours, Italy’s Civil Protection Department announced on Monday evening, bringing the total number of people confirmed to have contracted the new virus since the outbreak began to 9,172.

Of these, 463 have died, 97 of them in the past 24 hours. The majority of fatalities have been in people over 70, many of them with underlying health problems.

Another 724 people have recovered, 102 more than Sunday.

That left Italy with a total of 7,985 active cases as of Monday evening, an increase of 1,598 from the day before.

Italy has now recorded more than half of all the deaths reported outside China since the crisis first began to unfold at the end of last year.

The World Health Organisation added on Monday that around 70 percent of coronavirus patients in China have recovered.

ANALYSIS: Why have there been so many coronavirus deaths in Italy?

Photo: Miguel Medina/AFP

More than half of all active cases are in Lombardy, the north-western region placed on lockdown as part of unprecedented efforts to contain the outbreak.

At a press conference on Monday evening, Italy’s minister for regional affairs, Francesco Boccia, said the government was working to bring containment measures into line across the entire country – raising the prospect that strict restrictions on travel and public gatherings could be extended further south.

READ ALSO: What you need to know about the new quarantine measures in northern Italy

Certain precautions are already in place nationwide, including keeping children home from schools and closing museums, historic sites, cinemas and other venues likely to draw crowds.

The government announced on Monday that all Italian ski resorts would be closed from Tuesday morning as part of the containment effort.

Italy’s Olympic Committee (CONI) also recommended that all sporting events in Italy – including Serie A football matches – be suspended until April 3rd. 

READ ALSO: Life under lockdown: What’s it like to live in Italy’s coronavirus ‘orange zone’?

Lombardy now has 4,490 active cases of coronavirus. So far 646 people in the region have recovered, while 333 have died (66 in the past 24 hours).

More deaths were also reported in Emilia Romagna (+14), Veneto (+2), Piedmont (+8), Marche (+3), Lazio (+2), Liguria (+1) and Tuscany, which has now seen its first and so far only death from the COVID-19 virus.

While all 20 of Italy’s regions have now confirmed cases of coronavirus, the large majority of active cases are concentrated in Lombardy (4,490) and Emilia Romagna (1,286). 

No other region has more than 1,000 cases and 14 have fewer than 100 each.

Photo: Tiziana Fabi/AFP

More than 2,900 people who have tested positive for the coronavirus in Italy have only mild symptoms and are in self-isolation at home, while some 4,300 are receiving treatment in hospital.

Another 700 are currently in intensive care.

Italy has carried out nearly 54,000 tests for the virus so far. 

More than 70 percent of people who contracted COVID-19 in China have now recovered, according to the World Health Organization.

Most cases result in only mild symptoms, the WHO says. But the virus can be life-threatening to the elderly and people with pre-existing medical conditions including diabetes and high blood pressure.

READ ALSO: The everyday coronavirus precautions to take if you’re in Italy

Member comments

  1. Thank you for your stance on the coronavirus and making the news about the virus open to all. I have a subscription to The so I can be informed about news there as my partner lives in Italy. It has helped allay my concerns greatly knowing that I could get up-to-date and accurate information from Italy about what is happening there. Others who don’t have a subscription but who have loved ones there in Italy will appreciate your generosity greatly in the days and weeks ahead. Grazie mille!

  2. Hi Tim
    Its not as bad as it seems on the news, we are in Veneto and people are being sensible and life goes on.
    You can’t keep Italians away from caffe and pasticchio

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US tourist fined €500 for driving on Florence’s Ponte Vecchio bridge

Italian police fined a Californian man after he drove a rented Fiat Panda across Florence’s iconic - and pedestrianised - Ponte Vecchio on Thursday.

US tourist fined €500 for driving on Florence’s Ponte Vecchio bridge

The 34-year-old man drove onto the bridge in the early afternoon of Thursday, January 26th, but was quickly stopped by police.

He reportedly told officers that he was looking for parking and wasn’t aware he was on the Ponte Vecchio, one of Florence’s most recognisable landmarks.

Completed in 1345, the bridge today is famously a narrow, cobbled walkway lined with small shops selling jewellery and souvenirs.

READ ALSO: US tourist charged with public indecency after posing naked at Amalfi Cathedral

The visitor, from California, had been planning on touring Florence by car (a rented Fiat Panda, to be exact). 

But whether he was trying to put one over local police or he just wasn’t aware of local traffic rules, his early-afternoon ride cost him dearly as he later received a total 500-euro fine for entering a pedestrian-only area and driving without an international driving permit. 

READ ALSO: ‘Americans can pay’: Italian minister says famous sites should hike entry fees

Florence recently announced a restoration project worth €2 million for the bridge – which was the only one in the city left standing after World War II.

Thursday’s incident was not the first time a tourist was caught driving across the Ponte Vecchio. 

In 2019, a 79-year-old German tourist drove onto the bridge in a rented Lamborghini sports car. After being stopped by local police, the man reportedly told officers he was “lost”.