Italy shuts factories as daily toll nears 800

Rome (AFP) - Italy on Saturday shut all non-essential factories after recording another record coronavirus toll that brought its fatalities to 4,825 -- over a third of the world's total and a grim reminder that the pandemic remains out of control.

"The decision taken by the government is to close down all productive activity throughout the territory that is not strictly necessary, crucial, indispensable, to guarantee us essential goods and services," Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said in a dramatic late-night TV address.

The 55-year-old Italian leader stressed that groceries and pharmacies would remain open and did not spell out what "indispensable" companies were.

"We will slow down the country's productive engine, but we will not stop it," Conte said.

Italy has notched a rapid succession of records that seemed unimaginable when a retired Italian builder became the first person in Europe to die of the new illness exactly a month ago.

The Mediterranean nation of 60 million on Thursday overtook China as the global epicentre of COVID-19.

It then registered another 1,420 deaths on Friday and Saturday that took its total higher than that reported by China and third-placed Iran combined.

Medical experts question Iran's transparency and speculate that its toll might be higher.

Italian health officials looked stony-faced as they read out the latest bad news in a daily update on the country's deadliest and most transformative crisis since World War II.

Related Video: Vaccination and the Immune System

National Health Institute (ISS) chief Silvio Brusaferro urged the elderly to stay in doors at all times because the average age of Italy's victims was 78.5.

"If you do not follow all the (government) measures, you make everything more difficult," Italy's top medical expert said.

"If you do, we can make this outbreak slow down."

- 'Situation getting worse' -

But the Italian government appears intent on making more or less everyone stay in doors as much as possible at any cost.

Police squads in Rome were checking documents and fining those outside without a valid excuse.

Those who were out shopping were forced to wait in line at the entrance to make sure the store was filled with only a handful of people at a time.

Those who were out jogging were asked to limit their runs to laps around the block.

And those who were out for a walk were fined if they broke the rules and wondered into a park or stopped to take pictures of historic scenes of a city without any people.

Conte's government is betting that this approach -- and its accompanying concession that the economy will suffer extraordinary short-term pain -- will ultimately prevail.

The problem for Conte is that it is not working yet.

The number of COVID-19 infections rose Saturday by 6,557 to 53,578.

This is yet another record that beat one set only the day before.

Italy's first weeks of the crisis were marked by periodic record death tolls that would come twice or three times a week.

The country has been setting them every day since Wednesday and the jumps are getting exponentially bigger.

The total number of fatalities in the northern Lombardy regions around Milan surpassed 3,000.

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

The region of around 10 million reported 3,251 new infections on Saturday. It had reported 2,380 infections on Friday.

"The situation is getting worse," Lombardy governor Attilio Fontana was quoted as saying late Saturday by Italy's Sky TG24.

Italian media said Fontana was planing a new wave of closures and restrictions starting Sunday that included a ban on jogging and other outdoor activities.


More Related News

Italy records 111 new coronavirus deaths, 416 new cases
Italy records 111 new coronavirus deaths, 416 new cases

Deaths from the COVID-19 epidemic in Italy climbed by 111 on Saturday, against 87 the day before, the Civil Protection Agency said, while the daily tally of new cases fell to 416 from 516 on Friday.

Italy's Fognini has surgery on both ankles

Italy's Fabio Fognini announced on Saturday he will take advantage of the coronavirus-enforced break from tennis to undergo surgery on both his ankles. "After a medical examination and a long discussion with my team, I decided to have arthroscopy surgery on both ankles," Fognini said on Twitter. "I believe it's the right thing to do while the Tour is on this enforced break," continued Fognini, with the season on hold since March, and not set to return before August.

Italy's seas speak: No tourists or boats mean cleaner water

Pollution from human and agriculture waste spilling into the seas off Rome has decreased 30% during Italy's coronavirus lockdown, preliminary results from a nationwide survey of seawater quality indicate. Authorities stressed it was too soon to give the lockdown sole credit for the change, saying that shifting sea currents and limited rainfall in April and May also could have been responsible for reduced runoff of livestock and fertilizer waste. In addition, the lockdown meant Italians couldn't flock to their seaside vacation homes as they normally would in spring, a phenomenon that typically overwhelms local water treatment plants and results in increased pollutants spewing into the...

Virus-battered Italy faces worst recession since WWII
Virus-battered Italy faces worst recession since WWII

Facing its deepest recession since World War II and with business confidence collapsing, the coronavirus pandemic is hitting Italy's economy hard. Business confidence in the eurozone's third largest economy in May plummeted to its lowest level since official statistics institute ISTAT started the index in March 2005.

Italy records 87 new coronavirus deaths, 516 new cases
Italy records 87 new coronavirus deaths, 516 new cases
  • US
  • 2020-05-29 16:07:16Z

Deaths from the COVID-19 epidemic in Italy climbed by 87 on Friday, against 70 the day before, the Civil Protection Agency said, while the daily tally of new cases fell to 516 from 593 on Thursday. The total death toll since the outbreak came to light on Feb. 21 now stands at 33,229 the agency said, the third highest in the world after those of the United States and Britain.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply


Top News: Latin America