Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte signed a decree putting most of northern Italy under lockdown as the death toll due to the novel coronavirus continues to rise. Museums, theatres, cinemas, and other entertainment venues have also been closed all over the nation due to the decree signed by Conte on March 8. Italy reported the largest daily increase in the fatalities with 49 people dying to the virus within 24 hours, taking the toll to over 230. The growing threat of the deadly virus has forced the government to put 16 million people of northern Italy, including Lombardy region and 14 other provinces, under lockdown. According to media reports, the earlier draft of the decree had considered keeping the region under quarantine until April 3 but there has not been any official confirmation.
Announcing the government decree in a news conference after 2am (local time), Conte said that Italy is facing a national emergency. Italy has now recorded the most number of deaths due to COVID-19 after China which has reported 27 new deaths. In China, nearly 3,100 people have lost their lives owing to deadly disease and most numbers of cases are from Hubei province of China and the city of Wuhan, the epicentre of the outbreak.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) said that they are continuing to recommend that all countries make containment their highest priority. Speaking at a daily media briefing, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that they are encouraged by accelerated research as part of the response. WHO has received applications for 40 diagnostic tests, 20 vaccines are in development and many clinical trials of therapeutics are underway.
“Even as we test therapeutics, we need to ensure that supplies of those medicines are available should they prove effective. WHO has been monitoring the potential risk of a disruption to medicines supplies as a result of the COVID19 epidemic,” said Ghebreyesus.