Italy quarantines 16 million people in 14 provinces

Reuters ROME | Updated on March 08, 2020

A woman wearing a protective face mask inside Milan's main train station as Italian authorities prepare to lock down Lombardy to prevent the spread of the highly infectious coronavirus in Milan, Italy, on Saturday. REUTERS   -  REUTERS

Italy ordered a virtual lockdown across a swathe of its wealthy north on Sunday, including the financial capital Milan, in a drastic new attempt to try to contain a rapidly growing outbreak of coronavirus.

The unprecedented restrictions, which will impact some 16 million people and stay in force until April 3, were signed into law overnight by Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte.

The new measures say people should not enter or leave Lombardy, Italy’s richest region, as well as 14 provinces in four other regions, including the cities of Venice, Modena, Parma, Piacenza, Reggio Emilia and Rimini.

Conte said nobody would be allowed to move in or out of these areas, or within them, unless they had proven, work-related reasons for doing so, or health issues.

National emergency

“We are facing a national emergency. We chose from the beginning to take the line of truth and transparency and now were moving with lucidity and courage, with firmness and determination,” Conte told reporters.

“We have to limit the spread of the virus and prevent our hospitals from being overwhelmed,” he said.

Streets in northern cities including Milan were quieter than normal on Sunday morning. However, it was not immediately clear how stringently the order would be policed, with people caught away from home when the measures came into force allowed to return.

By early Sunday the measures had still not appeared in the Official Gazette, where legislation must be published to formally take effect.

Ten die at collapsed China quarantine site

Shanghai/Beijing: Ten people have died and 23 remain trapped after the collapse of a hotel that was being used to quarantine people under observation for the coronavirus in the Chinese city of Quanzhou, authorities said on Sunday.

More than 70 people were believed to have been initially trapped in the seven storey building, which collapsed on Saturday evening.

As of 16:00 Beijing time on Sunday, authorities had retrieved 48 individuals from the site of the collapse, with 38 of them sent to hospitals, the Ministry of Emergency Management said.

Pictures from the site showed rescue workers clad in hard hats, goggles and face masks carrying injured people away to waiting medical staff in white overalls and surgical masks.

A rescue force of over 1,000 people, including firefighters, police forces, and other emergency responders, arrived at the site on Saturday night, authorities told a media conference organised by the Quanzhou government on Sunday.

Of the 71 people inside the hotel at the time of the collapse, 58 had been under quarantine, they added.

The number of novel coronavirus cases in the world stood at 105,836, including 3,595 deaths, across 95 countries.

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Published on March 08, 2020
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