Italy’s coronavirus death toll has
soared to 366, with 133 deaths in just one, officials say.
According to the Civil Protection
agency, the total number of infections leapt 25% to 7,375 from 5,883.
The jump in figures comes as
millions adapt to radical measures introduced on March 8 in an attempt to
contain the outbreak.
Under new quarantine rules, up to 16
million people in Lombardy and 14 provinces need special permission to travel.
PM Giuseppe Conte also announced the
closure of schools, gyms, museums, nightclubs and other venues across the whole
The restrictions will last until April
The latest figures mean Italy now
has the highest number of confirmed infections outside China, where the outbreak
originated in December. The outbreak has overtaken South Korea, where the total
number of cases is 7,313.
Among the latest people to test positive
in Italy is the army’s chief of staff. Salvatore Farina said he felt well and
The strict new quarantine measures
affect a quarter of the Italian population and center on the rich northern part
of the country that powers its economy.
The health system is under immense
strain in Lombardy, a northern region of 10 million people, where people are
being treated in hospital corridors.
Prime Minister Conte said as he
announced the measures on March 8: “We
want to guarantee the health of our citizens. We understand that these measures
will impose sacrifices, sometimes small and sometimes very big.”
Under the new measures, people are not supposed to be able to enter or leave
Lombardy, where Milan is the main city.
The same restrictions apply to 14 provinces: Modena, Parma, Piacenza, Reggio
Emilia, Rimini, Pesaro and Urbino, Alessandria, Asti, Novara, Verbano Cusio
Ossola, Vercelli, Padua, Treviso and Venice.
Some transport in and out of the regions affected continued on March 8.
Flights still arrived at Milan’s Malpensa and Linate airports, though some
scheduled flights were canceled.
However, Italy’s national carrier Alitalia said it would suspend all operations
from Malpensa from March 9 and Linate would only serve domestic routes.
International flights would continue to and from Rome.
WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus praised Italy for making “genuine
sacrifices” with the restrictions. Until March 8 only about 50,000 people
in northern Italy had been affected by quarantines.
The number of infections worldwide is more than 107,000, with about 3,600
Most of the fatalities have been in China. However, the country reported on
March 8 its lowest number of new infections in a single day since January – an
indication that the virus’s spread there is slowing.
Iran, one of the worst hotspots outside China, has now confirmed 6,566
infections and 194 deaths.
However, the real figure is feared to be much higher. One report on March 8, quoting a government envoy, said there had been 200 deaths in the northern Gilan province alone – but the figures were later removed.
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