Italy on Monday banned all movement inside the country and closed all non-essential businesses as the number of coronavirus infections continued to soar, with 59,000 cases and 5,476 deaths, AP reported.
The drastic measures were announced after Italy became the epicentre of the global crisis earlier this month and surpassed China’s toll. On Saturday, 793 Italians died from coronavirus, the most in a single day anywhere in the world.
Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte on Sunday said Italy was facing its gravest moment since the World War II, and announced the shutdown of all establishments that were not “strictly necessary, crucial [or] indispensable” until April 3. “We will slow down the country’s productive engine, but we will not stop it,” Conte said, according to The Guardian.
New York state becomes new epicentre in US
Meanwhile, the New York state of the United States reached an alarming milestone on Sunday, as it now accounts for nearly 5% of the world’s confirmed cases of Covid-19. The state has more than 15,000 patients.
There were 16,887 cases of the coronavirus in the state as of Sunday night and at least 150 deaths, according to The New York Times. As of Sunday morning, about 13% of people in New York who tested positive for the virus had been hospitalised. The state has been put under lockdown with all non-essential businesses ordered shut. Residents have been asked to strictly remain indoors except for basic necessities like food and medicine.
Mayor of New York City Bill de Blasio on Sunday warned that the city was 10 days away from seeing widespread shortages of medicines, BBC reported. “If we don’t get more ventilators people will die,” he said.
Criticising President Donald Trump and his administration for the inadequate response, de Blasio said: “This is going to be the greatest crisis, domestically, since the Great Depression [of the late 1920s].”
Coronavirus cases in the United States had risen exponentially by Monday with more than 30,000 people infected and 390 deaths. As the world’s biggest economy suffers the whiplash of the pandemic, Trump and leaders in the White House were in talks to launch a rescue package that could be worth nearly $2 trillion, AP reported.
South Korea on Monday reported the lowest number of new coronavirus cases in four weeks, recording 64 new patients of Covid-19 in the last 24 hours, taking the total to 8,961 with 111 deaths. However, health officials warned against complacency and asked people to remain cautious.
In order to avoid the pandemic from re-entering from the West, South Korea on Sunday announced all passengers arriving from Europe will be tested and those who were coming on long-term visas will be put under quarantine for 14 days, AP reported.
The office of Prime Minister Chung Se-kyun on Monday said 152 of the passengers who arrived on Sunday were tested at airport isolation facilities after exhibiting fever or respiratory symptoms.
In fresh signs of hope, residents of China’s Wuhan city, the heart of the virus outbreak, on Sunday were allowed to leave their homes in small groups for the first time in several weeks, as the country eased the two-month lockdown. There have now been over 81,000 cases in China, and the toll has reached 3,270.
National Health Commission of China on Monday reported 39 new cases, all of which, they said were foreign nationals. On Sunday, China ordered that all international flights to Beijing to be diverted to other cities where passengers will be screened before continuing on to the capital.
Meanwhile, Beijing announced that all non-residents stranded in Wuhan since the imposition of travel restrictions on January 23, can begin applying to leave the city.
Covid-19 has infected nearly 3.5 lakh people worldwide, and killed over 15,000, according to an estimate by Johns Hopkins University, which is live-tracking cases reported by the World Health Organization and additional sources.