Italy bans most travel between cities, virus death toll at almost 5,500

Rome, Mar 22 (efe-epa).- Italy on Sunday banned virtually all personal travel between cities, preventing anyone – albeit it with certain exceptions – from leaving the location where they currently find themselves as yet another measure to try and limit the spread of the coronavirus, which at latest count has now killed 5,476 people in the European country.

The travel ban – along with other measures to take effect on Monday – is designed to prevent people from circulating at a time when Italy is trying to halt the spread of the virus.

The 651 people who died from complications of the coronavirus in the last 24 hours have ensured that Italy remains the nation suffering the highest death toll from the virus, specifically from Covid-19 pneumonia, which the virus often brings about.

Currently, there are 46,638 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, that is to say 3,957 more than had been detected as of Saturday, although on Saturday Italy had registered 793 deaths and 4,821 new infections, as testing the general population continues to ramp up.

Civil Protection chief Angelo Borrelli said Sunday that the lessening in the rate of increase for both the death toll and the confirmed cases, if confirmed in the coming days, may mean that the epidemic has reached its peak.

“But we can’t let our guard down and we have to keep respecting the … isolation measures that have been imposed,” he said.

A total of 7,024 people in Italy have been confirmed “cured” of the coronavirus, the disease having affected them only mildly or having run its course without fatal consequences.

Last Thursday, Italy overtook China as the country with the most deaths from the coronavirus. Chinese authorities have not reported a single new case on the local level in the past three days.

The northern Italian region of Lombardy has seen 27,206 cases and 3,456 deaths, followed by Emilia-Romagna, with 7,555 cases and Veneto with 5,122 cases.

To contain the epidemic locally, the Italian government has been implementing progressively more strenuous isolation measures.

The travel ban comes a day after the Italian government mandated a halt to all economic activity not essential to maintaining life and battling the coronavirus pandemic, with Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte telling a press conference on Saturday that although “difficult,” the decision was necessary to “confront the most acute phase” of the pandemic in Italy.

Exceptions to this production ban include activities connected with medical care, agriculture, logistics and energy.

“We are slowing Italy’s motor, but not stopping it,” Conte had said, well aware that the most seriously affected regions – Lombardy, Emilia-Romagna and Veneto – together represent 40 percent of Italian GDP.

In the meantime, supermarkets, pharmacies, banking and postal services, insurers and public services like local in-city transportation, among others, are continuing to provide service.

The inter-city travel ban is designed to prevent people who work in the industrialized northern part of the country from traveling to the south, which has not been hit as hard by the virus.

The head of the southern region of Campania, Vicenzo De Luca, had asked Conte to put the travel ban in place to block the predictable flood of workers returning south after the closure of their workplaces in the northern cities.

The southern regions of Calabria and Basilicata on Sunday prohibited all incoming and outgoing traffic, except for specially excused workers or due to health reasons, until April 3.


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