As the COVID-19 coronavirus spreads around the world, the World Health Organization, WHO has warned that governments must take drastic measures to contain the virus. The group has even recommended that countries who are facing new outbreaks should take a similar approach to that seen in China over the past two months. Italy, which seems to be the country worst hit by the virus aside from China, is now in the position where those tough decisions are being made.
After a large number of deaths have been reported each day in the region, the government of Italy has decided to place 16 million people under a strict quarantine. Anyone living within the borders of Lombardy and 14 other central and northern provinces will be on lockdown until the 3rd of April. Even the historic and affluent cities of Milan and Venice will be on lockdown.
The list of regions also affected includes, Modena, Parma, Piacenza, Reggio Emilia, Rimini, Pesaro and Urbino, Alessandria, Asti, Novara, Verbano Cusio Ossola, Vercelli, Padua, Treviso and Venice.
Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte also announced the closure of schools, gyms, museums, nightclubs and other venues across the whole country.
The quarantine measures were announced after the country reported 36 deaths in 24 hours.
Officials have said that the healthcare system across the country is overwhelmed, and they are now rationing medical care and only allowing people into the hospitals for treatment if they meet certain criteria.
Prime Minister Conte warned of “sacrifices” that could sometimes be “very big” as he announced the measures.
“There will be no movement in or out of these areas, or within them, unless for proven work-related reasons, emergencies or health reasons. We are facing an emergency, a national emergency. We have to limit the spread of the virus and prevent our hospitals from being overwhelmed,” Mr Conte said in a statement.
The World Health Organization (WHO) chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus praised Italy for making “genuine sacrifices” with the restrictions.
The government & the people of 🇮🇹 are taking bold, courageous steps aimed at slowing the spread of the #coronavirus & protecting their country & 🌍. They are making genuine sacrifices. @WHO stands in solidarity with 🇮🇹 & is here to continue supporting you.https://t.co/Y2rkgUihtA
— Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (@DrTedros) March 8, 2020
After the announcement was made that the region would be shut down, there was a rush of people who fled the area in the few hours before the quarantine was imposed.
A final chance to evacuate from the COVID19 red zone. People rush to catch the last trains leaving Lombardy after government declared the quarantine and lockdown of 16 million people in Northern Italy. The mandatory quarantine will last until early April. pic.twitter.com/9m5Sf7nuhH
— Max Howroute▫️ (@howroute) March 8, 2020
Meanwhile, the country has also faced prison riots that were related to the outbreak, according to Channel News Asia. Authorities have prevented the prisoners from having visitors to mitigate the spread of the virus, which is one of the main factors that led to the riots.
In Iran, another country that has been brought to a standstill by the virus, the government has temporarily freed 54,000 prisoners in an attempt to prevent the virus from spreading through the prisons.
There is also concern that people inside the Italian quarantine zone are being left to fend for themselves.
Luca Franzese, the brother of a 47-year-old woman who died at home, is now trapped in the house with her, and has waited for over a day for authorities to come and help him. He posted a terrifying video to social media pleading with authorities to come and help him.
URGENT: #Covid19 ITALY- “We have been locked in the house with my DEAD sister for 24 hours." "We have been waiting for 24 hours for the outcome of the #Coronavirus swap – explains Luca- nobody told us anything and we are completely abandoned to ourselves" #ITALIA pic.twitter.com/J9zuBGV0TW
— Alexander Higgins – Coronavirus Updates (@kr3at) March 8, 2020
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