Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has implemented a nationwide lockdown in an attempt to stop the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, Bloomberg reports.
This follows a sudden increase in the numbers of those infected as well as coronavirus-related deaths in the country.
Infections rose by 25% to 9,172 on Monday, while the Italian death toll rose from 366 to 463.
Conte described the measures as “I stay home”, and said that citizens will only be allowed to travel for work or family emergencies.
“We all must give something up for the good of Italy. We have to do it now,” said Conte.
“This is why I decided to adopt even more strong and severe measures to contain the advance… and protect the health of all citizens.”
“I have been thinking about the old speeches of [Winston] Churchill – it is our darkest hour, but we will make it,” Conte said.
What the shutdown entails
Public transport, airports, and train stations will remain operational and tourists will be allowed to travel home.
However, the following measures have been implemented as part of the lockdown:
- Train stations will measure the temperature of those embarking trains, and those leaving from or arriving in the country will have to explain their reason for doing so.
- Cruise ships have been banned from porting at certain docks.
- Sporting events and other public gatherings have been shut down, while schools and universities will remain closed until 3 April.
- The Italian government has increased its spending to €7.5 billion to lessen the effect coronavirus is having on the Italian economy.
Coronavirus in South Africa
Seven South Africans, all of whom were part of a tour group to Italy, have tested positive for coronavirus.
Three of these South Africans tested positive last week, while the remaining four discovered yesterday that they had contracted the virus.
“It should be noted that these people travelled as couples, and we already asked them to be quarantined, as soon as the first the case was discovered,” Minister of Health Dr Zweli Mkhize said.
All seven of the affected South Africans are “healthy,” Mkhize added, with the first patient already recovering.
The return of South Africans in Wuhan province in China is also proceeding as planned, Mkhize said.
“From where we sit, we are scanning people inflight, from where the risk is coming from. Screening is happening at airports.”