Italy is grappling with the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) spread in the country, which has so far taken 366 lives and infected 7,375 people. Now, the government plans to isolate and quarantine the northern part of Italy, including Milan and the epicenter of the virus spread, Lombardy, affecting about 16 million people.
The total number of infections has increased 25 percent from 5,883 in just two days, making the country the second one with the highest number of infections worldwide, next to South Korea that reported 7,382 cases and 50 deaths.
The government has imposed radical measures in an attempt to contain the outbreak. The areas affected include Lombardy and 14 other provinces, while only those with special permission to travel will be allowed to travel, under new quarantine rules.
Officials have deployed law enforcement to implement the new restrictions and oversee borders, to make sure no one will pass through without thorough check-ups.
"We want to guarantee the health of our citizens. We understand that these measures will impose sacrifices, sometimes small and sometimes very big," Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said in a statement. MILANO, ITALY - FEBRUARY 22, 2020: Coronavirus in Italy. Image Credit: Praszkiewicz / Shutterstock Schools shut down
Large gatherings are now banned in the hope of containing the virus. Health officials said they are also shutting down schools nationwide for two weeks.
Meanwhile, the government promised to assist parents with children below 14 years old. About 8.4 million children are out of class well before the Easter break, which affects parents who may have problems with babysitting their children.
Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte also announced the closing of public areas in the country, such as gyms, schools, museums, tourist spots, pools, and nightclubs. Also, the government has banned all public gatherings, like sporting events, concerts, funerals, weddings, video arcades, and church masses. Though trains and buses are still operational, the residents are not allowed to leave or travel unless absolutely necessary.
Restaurants are still open but only between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m., and only if they can provide at least three feet space between each guest. Across the country, authorities have closed concert halls, libraries, cinemas, and theaters.
Those with a body temperature above 37.5 degrees celsius and anyone who has tested positive for the virus are effectively quarantined.
"We are facing an emergency, a national emergency. We have to limit the spread of the virus and prevent our hospitals from being overwhelmed," Conte said. Italian prisons revolt
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