Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte on March 19 announced that the week-long lockdown in the country will be extended beyond the April 3 deadline in order to protect the most vulnerable from the coronavirus outbreak. The European country has been jolted by the sudden escalation of cases and deaths, which is the highest after epicentre China.
According to reports, the lockdown will continue to maintain the closure of all retail shops, except for grocery, pharmacy and gas stations. Schools and colleges which were scheduled to open on April 3 will now remain close until further notice. As per reports, the Italian government has approved a $27 billion rescue package to support the businesses affected by the lockdown. Italy on March 18 reported 475 coronavirus related deaths, highest single-day toll for any nation.
Italy is the most affected country after mainland China where the death toll has reached 2,978 as of March 18. According to reports, there are currently 28,710 active coronavirus cases in the country, of which 2,257 patients are under critical condition. Media reports suggest that Italy has successfully treated 4,025 patients from the 35,713 cases that have been reported since December 2019. Italy on March 18 set a new record after more than 4,200 people tested positive for the virus in one day.
The COVID-19 has claimed more than 8,900 lives across the world and has infected over 2,20,000 people globally since it first broke out in December 2019. China is the most affected country in the world as experts believe that the virus originated from a seafood market in Wuhan city, the epicentre of the disease, where animals were reportedly being traded illegally. Iran is also highly affected as it became the third country after China and Italy to record more than 1,000 deaths.