Italy is now extending its already draconian coronavirus quarantine measures, which include a ban on public gatherings, to the entire country.
Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said late on Monday that people in the country would only be permitted to travel for work or family emergencies. All public gatherings for the near future are to be curtailed and the Prime Minister urged his fellow Italians to “stay at home” during this difficult period in order to slow the progression of the virus.
All of the nation’s schools and universities will be shuttered at least until April 3.
Speaking to reporters, Conte said “We all have to renounce something for the good of Italy” as he laid out the strictest-possible guidelines for the nationwide attempt to contain the virus.
Previously it had only been the northernmost part of the country, or sixteen provinces, including the large cities of Milan and Venice, which were included in the Italian “Red Zone” consisting of a more or less complete curtailing of all public activities.
At that time, Conte had said “There will be an obligation to avoid any movement of people who are either entering or leaving” the quarantined northern Italian regions.
But now, schools, restaurants, sporting activities, and much of the nation’s commerce will be shuttered nationwide in a desperate, last-ditch effort to stem the viral tide.
The Prime Minister states that now, travel will only be allowed in the entire country “for essential work or health reasons,” according to Reuters.
The first ban had affected 16 million northern Italians, who live in the large metropolitan areas in the north — but now the lockdown includes Italy’s entire population of sixty million people.
Italian health authorities announced on Monday that so far there have been more than 9,000 coronavirus infections in the country and 463 people had died from the virus. This constitutes a clear majority of cases in the entirety of Europe.
The nations of Italy and Iran have incurred the most deaths from the new virus outside the country of China, where it made its initial appearance.
Officials from the World Health Organization (WHO), trying desperately to get a handle on the worldwide spread of the virus, urged nations to take strict actions as they deem necessary. “Allowing uncontrolled spread should not be a choice of any government, as it will harm not only the citizens of that country but affect other countries as well,” they said in a recent statement.
This is a breaking news story — more to follow.