Italy tightened lockdown as coronavirus deaths mount

Italy tightened lockdown as coronavirus deaths mount
The new measures ban weekly markets, work on building sites and physical activity outdoors. Source: Reuters
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Daily US Times, Milan: Italy has tightened lockdown in a bid to tackle the spread of coronavirus. The country’s worst-hit region Lombardy has introduced stricter measures banning vending machines, sport and physical activity outside, even individually.

The region’s President Attilio Fontana announced the new rules late on Saturday.

The tightened lockdown measures came after the country has reported nearly 800 new deaths on Saturday, far bigger than any day since the outbreak has begun.

The death toll on Italy reached 4,825, the highest in the world, while 3,095 deaths reported in Lombardy alone.

Businesses have been asked to close all operations except “essential” supply chains and all open-air weekly markets have been suspended. Work on building sites will be stopped apart from those working on hospitals, railways, and roads.

Lombardy has been on lockdown since March 8 and the government had hoped to see results there first.

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte ordered the closure of all “non-essential” businesses in the country in a television speech on Saturday. But he did not mention which businesses would be considered essential.

Post offices, banks, supermarkets and pharmacies will remain open and public transport will continue to run.

Mr Conte said to the nation: “We will slow down the country’s productive engine, but we will not stop it.”

He described the situation as “the most difficult crisis in our post-war period”.

Despite the country has taken severe measures, the number of new cases and deaths has continued to grow.

According to data collected by the Johns Hopkins University in the US, nearly 13,000 people around the world have now died from the disease, and more than 304,500 people have been diagnosed with the infection, while nearly 92,000 have recovered.

What is happening elsewhere?

Spain’s death toll is the second-highest in Europe after Italy. The country has reported a 32% spike in new deaths from Covid-19 with 1,326 confirmed deaths.

Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez warned “the worst is yet to come” and that “very difficult days lay ahead”.

On Saturday, the Eiffel Tower lit up for 10 minutes to honour the country’s medical staff. Source: AFP

The government has issued a lockdown for some 46 million people who are only allowed to leave their homes for medical reasons, essential work, food shopping.

The growing number of world leaders and political figures have told citizens to stick to rules.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned the UK’s National Health Service could be “overwhelmed” if people do not act to slow the “accelerating” spread of coronavirus.

He called on people to join a “heroic and collective national effort” and follow social distancing advice.

Fergus Ewing, Scotland’s Rural Economy and Tourism Secretary, has called on people not to travel to the Scottish Highlands after reports of people in campervans trying to find solace from outbreaks elsewhere across the UK.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo hit out at young people who he claims have been ignoring orders of social distancing.

“I don’t care frankly. This is a public health issue and you cannot be endangering other peoples’ health,” he said. “You shouldn’t be endangering your own.”

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