Daily US Times, Milan: At least 16 million people are now in mandatory quarantine in Italy’s Lombardy region and also in 14 provinces, said the country’s prime minister. Officials confirmed the lock-down will last until early April.
The dramatic escalation in the country’s efforts to contain the new coronavirus will close ski resorts, museums, gyms, and pools.
Italy is one of the worst affected countries from the coronavirus outbreak and became the hotbed of the virus in Europe. The country has reported a sharp rise in virus infections on Saturday.
Italy’s financial center Milan and tourist hotspot Venice is also included in the new measures and will last until 3 April.
The death toll has passed 230, but officials confirmed more than 50 deaths in just 24 hours. The number of confirmed cases jumped by more than 1,200 to 5,883 on Saturday.
The whole northern region of Lombardy, where at least 10 million people live and Italy’s financial center Milan, will be closed off except for emergency access, and 14 provinces including Modena, Venice, and Parma will be subject to the same measures. The whole measure will affect a total of around 16 million people.
The affected provinces were Treviso, Verbano Cusio Ossola, Modena, Parma, Alessandria, Piacenza, Pesaro and Urbino, Reggio Emilia, Rimini, Asti, Novara, Vercelli, Padua, and Venice.
What are the measures?
Under the measures, ski reports, night clubs, museums, and swimming pools will be closed. Cares and restaurants can be open, but customers must sit at least a meter apart.
People will be told to stay their home as much as possible, but those who break the mandatory quarantine could face three months of jail time.
Sports competitions will close to the public and the president of Italy’s football players’ union has called for all matches to be postponed.
The World Health Organization has advised Italy to strongly focus on virus containment measures as infections spread in the country massively.
Italy is now following China’s forced quarantine of millions of people. WHO has praised China’s decision as it helped halting the spread of the virus.
Nicola Zingaretti, a leading Italian politician said on Saturday he had tested positive for the virus but assured that he is fine and will stay home in the next few days.
Italy announced that it will start recruiting retired doctors in an effort to combat the escalating outbreak.
Iran, another severely affected country, has confirmed almost 6,000 infections and 145 deaths, and the number of cases worldwide has passed 100,000.
A second MP was reportedly among those to have died in Iran, as the country’s health officials fear the number of cases may actually be much higher.
On Sunday, South Korean officials confirmed 367 new cases, making the total cases in the country to 7,134.
China reported 27 new deaths in Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak. It also reported its lowest number of new infections in a single day since January.