Italy Coronavirus
Italy Coronavirus
(Photo by Marco Bertorello / AFP)

Milan: Italy has slid into an unprecedented nationwide lockdown with 9,000 virus cases confirmed and 463 people dead.  The virus is spreading so quickly that doctors are having to make life-or-death decisions about who gets access to intensive care.  

The lockdown means 60 million Italians have to stay home: the only travel allowed will be for proven work reasons, for health conditions or other cases of necessity. Apparently, the partial lockdown imposed in northern Italy has not helped in checking the outbreak.

“Our habits must be changed, changed now. We all have to give up something for the good of Italy. When I speak of Italy, I speak of our dear ones, of our grandparents and of our parents,” Conte said.

Italian streets and piazzas were empty on Tuesday while shoppers crammed into supermarkets to stock up for a lengthy quarantine. British Airways and Jet2 have cancelled their hundreds of flights to and from Italy until April and easyJet has grounded most services – but people are still flowing into Britain from without checks.

Tourist favourites, including Milan's shopping galleries, Rome's Spanish Steps and Vatican's St Peter's Square, were all but deserted after the drastic coronavirus measures were extended to the entire country last night.  

The nationwide restrictions take effect Tuesday until April 3 and include the closures of schools and universities and downing of shutters at pubs, eateries and cafes at dusk. Conte took to task young people who continued to gather socially as the virus spread, saying “this night life ... we can't allow this anymore.”

For the first time, checkpoints were set up to screen travellers. People at Milan Central Station were required to sign a police form, self-certifying why they were traveling.

“Until a few days ago, the thinking was the alarm would pass in some weeks, we just need to follow the rules. Now we need to explain to citizens that the situation is very, very serious, our hospitals are at the point of collapse,” the mayor of the Lombardy city of Bergamo, Giorgio Gori, told RAI state television.

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