Italy tightened its nationwide lockdown further in response to the alarming death toll jump, ordering all non-essential shops and services to shut down.
Italy's Civil Protection Agency confirmed on Wednesday that nearly 200 individuals died from the coronavirus in a 24-hour span. According to NBC News, this is the highest daily increase in absolute terms registered anywhere in the world since the COVID-19 pandemic emerged in China at the end of 2019. The country tightened its nationwide lockdown further in response to the alarming death toll jump, ordering all non-essential shops and services to shut down. Announcing the new measures, Italian Prime Minister, Giuseppe Conte revealed that supermarkets and pharmacies will be the only retailers to remain open in the country.
Italy went from no hint of trouble to national lockdown in three weeks. Given the total absence of leadership and pitiful testing, we could be well down the same path https://t.co/D5NFucfPqG— Paul Krugman (@paulkrugman) March 12, 2020
Conte also informed reporters that the government would allocate 25 billion euros ($28.3 billion) to help cushion the impact on the nation's fragile economy, after estimating just a week ago that it would only need 7.5 billion. According to CNBC, the latest restrictions come as the virus death toll surged over 30%, taking the number above 800. Announcing the closure of most commercial and retail activities, Conte said it was time to "go one step further." Although public services remain in place and industrial production has been allowed to continue, companies are required to adopt safety measures to protect their workers and prevent further contagion.
"At this moment the whole world is certainly looking at us for the numbers of the contagion, they see a country that is in difficulty, but they also appreciate us because we are showing great strictness and great resistance," the prime minister said in a Facebook address. "I have a deep conviction. I would like to share it with you. Tomorrow not only will they look at us again and admire us, but they will take us as a positive example of a country that, thanks to its sense of community, has managed to win its battle against this pandemic."
"Please, don't waste time and don't make the same mistakes"— Bloomberg (@business) March 12, 2020
Italy's former prime minister Matteo Renzi has a message for Donald Trump on containing coronavirus: "The only solution is block the schools, not block the direct planes"https://t.co/ou5tapSMau pic.twitter.com/XnIdBSUNZP
According to the latest figures from Johns Hopkins University, as of Thursday morning, Italy recorded 12,462 confirmed cases of the virus and 827 deaths. 1,045 individuals are said to have recovered. WHO's Emergencies Head, Michael Ryan, stated that nearly 900 people with the virus in Italy were in intensive care, reports BBC. "Iran [another outbreak hotspot] and Italy are suffering now but I guarantee you other countries will be in that situation very soon," he warned.
“We must push countries, all of us to fight as hard as they can to suppress this coronavirus. By doing so, you are saving lives. By doing so you’re buying more time for your hospitals to prepare. So do everything you can to be as aggressive as you can ...” - Dr @mvankerkhove pic.twitter.com/PDLqvVkr4C— World Health Organization (WHO) (@WHO) March 12, 2020
While the novel coronavirus is slowing in China, world health officials revealed that it is picking up speed in other countries. As per data from Johns Hopkins University, over the last week, the number of cases in the U.S. erupted to 1,030 spread across at least 36 states. While briefing Senate staff on Tuesday afternoon in a closed-door meeting, Brian Monahan—the attending physician of Congress and the Supreme Court—reportedly said that he expects 70 million to 150 million people in the U.S. will contract the coronavirus.
Alarming chart shows how similar the timelines are between the US and Italy:— Alli Hedges Maser (@AllisonLHedges) March 12, 2020
- It took only 8 days for Italy to go from 1 coronavirus death to 1,000+ reported cases.
- It took 8 days for the US to go from 9 deaths to 1,000+ reported cases. pic.twitter.com/ybTlKQCBDj
During a congressional hearing earlier on Wednesday, another top health official predicted the same, stating that the worst is yet to come with the coronavirus in the United States. "I can say we will see more cases and things will get worse than they are right now," said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Meanwhile, President Donald Trump announced on Wednesday night that he has "decided to take several strong but necessary actions to protect the health and wellbeing of all Americans." He unveiled several measures to stem the spread of the coronavirus, the biggest of which is a 30-day ban on travel to the US by Europeans and restrictions on cargo.
European diplomats are in utter disbelief over Donald Trump’s coronavirus travel ban https://t.co/4bdwsn0cvF— BuzzFeed News (@BuzzFeedNews) March 12, 2020
"The virus will not have a chance against us. No nation is more prepared or more resilient than the United States," he asserted, adding that "as history has proven time and time again, Americans always rise to the challenge and overcome adversity." However, while speaking to lawmakers on Capitol Hill, Fauci noted that attempts to downplay how lethal the pandemic is by comparing it to the flu—which Trump did not so long ago—are wildly misguided. "I mean, people always say, 'Well, the flu does this, the flu does that,'" he said. "The flu has a mortality of 0.1%. This has a mortality of 10 times that. That’s the reason I want to emphasize we have to stay ahead of the game in preventing this."