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.
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.”
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. Read more