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Italy’s death toll leaps by 97 in one day to 463

Italy’s death toll has leapt by 97 in one day to 463 as alarming photos emerge of patients hooked onto life support machines inside quarantine-zone hospitals.

The deaths, announced by the Italian Civil Protection Agency this afternoon, mark a 20 per cent rise in the country’s total number of deaths within 24 hours.

Almost half of these have been reported in those aged 80 to 89-years-old, the Department said, with a further 31 per cent in 70 to 79-year-olds.

The total number of cases in Italy, at the epicentre of the European coronavirus outbreak, also rose to 9,172, the largest daily increase in terms of absolute numbers since the contagion first emerged on February 11.

Photos from a hospital in Cremona, within the locked down region of Lombardy, show patients patients surrounded by wires and tubes being treated by medics in full protective suits with gloves, goggles and face masks.

Some are lying face-down on their hospital beds, which researchers believe can raise survival rates in intensive care by improving oxygen levels in the blood. 

The hospital in the quarantined region, with some 16million inhabitants, which is one of the regions sealed off in the toughest quarantine measures that any country has imposed outside China.  

Italy’s prime minister last night pleaded with his citizens to obey the draconian new measures, declaring that ‘this is the time to be responsible’ after the quarantine took effect in cities including Milan and Venice. 

‘We want to protect the health of all citizens, we are aware that this will create unease and that these measures will be a sacrifice, big and small,’ Giuseppe Conte said in an address last night. 

‘But this is the time to be responsible. We all must respect and not dodge these measures.

‘We should not counter these measures or dodge them, we must think about protecting our health, the health of our beloved ones, the health of our parents, but mainly the health of our grandparents,’ he said, warning that older people have proved the most vulnerable to the virus. 

Italian police were today setting up checkpoints in Lombardy after the wealthy northern region and 14 other provinces were placed into lockdown in a measure which will last until at least April 3. 

Only people with a ‘serious’ reason that cannot be postponed, such as urgent work or family issues, will be allowed in or out of the ‘orange zones’. 

Anyone who breaks the rules without justification could face three months in prison or a 200-euro fine in a draconian new effort to tackle the crisis. 

The crisis deepened even further yesterday as Italy’s death toll soared from 133 to 366, becoming the highest in the world outside China. 

The number of confirmed cases in the country also surged by 1,492 to 7,375, making the scale of the Italian outbreak worse than South Korea’s. 

To make matters worse, six people died yesterday in one of several jailhouse riots after prisoners revolted over new rules which banned them from seeing their families over coronavirus fears. 

Coronavirus patients lie face-down on their hospital beds as they are treated by medical staff in protective suits in Cremona, northern Italy, today. Research has suggested that lying face-down may improve survival chances in intensive care 

Medical staff in protective suits treat coronavirus patients in an intensive care unit at the Cremona hospital in northern Italy

A health worker in a full protective suit with a mask, goggles and gloves works in the intensive care unit in Cremona 

A masked medic tends to a patient on the intensive care ward in Cremona, in northern Italy at the centre of the outbreak

A close-up of a hospital patient being treated in the intensive care unit and surrounded by wires and tubes 

A map showing the parts of Italy that have been placed under lockdown in drastic new measures to tackle coronavirus

A map showing the parts of Italy that have been placed under lockdown in drastic new measures to tackle coronavirus

A map showing the parts of Italy that have been placed under lockdown in drastic new measures to tackle coronavirus 

An Italian military police officer checks the documents of a motorist travelling with his dog in San Fiorano, with authorities today imposing checkpoints to enforce a drastic new quarantine

An Italian military police officer checks the documents of a motorist travelling with his dog in San Fiorano, with authorities today imposing checkpoints to enforce a drastic new quarantine

An Italian military police officer checks the documents of a motorist travelling with his dog in San Fiorano, with authorities today imposing checkpoints to enforce a drastic new quarantine 

A stop sign and a roadblock stand in the way of motorists on a road in San Fiorano, northern Italy, which is under lockdown

A stop sign and a roadblock stand in the way of motorists on a road in San Fiorano, northern Italy, which is under lockdown

A stop sign and a roadblock stand in the way of motorists on a road in San Fiorano, northern Italy, which is under lockdown

Police check a woman's belongings by the side of a road in San Fiorano at a checkpoint where a lockdown is being enforced

Police check a woman's belongings by the side of a road in San Fiorano at a checkpoint where a lockdown is being enforced

Police check a woman’s belongings by the side of a road in San Fiorano at a checkpoint where a lockdown is being enforced

People wearing protective masks in Milan's Malpensa airport today - which remained open despite the quarantine

People wearing protective masks in Milan's Malpensa airport today - which remained open despite the quarantine

People wearing protective masks in Milan’s Malpensa airport today – which remained open despite the quarantine

Italian PM Giuseppe Conte declared that 'this is the time to be responsible' in an address last night (pictured) as he called on people to 'protect the health of our loved ones' after the quarantine took effect in cities including Milan and Venice

Italian PM Giuseppe Conte declared that 'this is the time to be responsible' in an address last night (pictured) as he called on people to 'protect the health of our loved ones' after the quarantine took effect in cities including Milan and Venice

Italian PM Giuseppe Conte declared that ‘this is the time to be responsible’ in an address last night (pictured) as he called on people to ‘protect the health of our loved ones’ after the quarantine took effect in cities including Milan and Venice

Health workers prepare to carry out checks on passengers from Milan at Potenza station in Italy early this morning

Health workers prepare to carry out checks on passengers from Milan at Potenza station in Italy early this morning

Health workers prepare to carry out checks on passengers from Milan at Potenza station in Italy early this morning

A health worker checks the body temperature of a cleaner arriving at the Juventus stadium before the Turin team's match against Inter Milan yesterday, which was played behind closed doors

A health worker checks the body temperature of a cleaner arriving at the Juventus stadium before the Turin team's match against Inter Milan yesterday, which was played behind closed doors

A health worker checks the body temperature of a cleaner arriving at the Juventus stadium before the Turin team’s match against Inter Milan yesterday, which was played behind closed doors 

BA and Ryanair are still running flights from northern Italy to the UK 

Airlines including British Airways, Ryanair and EasyJet are still flying passengers to and from coronavirus-ridden regions of northern Italy after swathes of the country were put on lockdown.

Return flights to Milan – one of the cities under lockdown – are still being offered by Ryanair, EasyJet and British Airways and are all available to book online. 

Britons returning home from the worst-hit regions are not being checked for the virus upon landing in the UK.

The Foreign Office confirmed that nationals returning from northern Italy – the worse-affected region – will not be met by anyone at the airport in Britain, nor will they be put into quarantine or told to take a test for the bug.  

British Airways are ‘reviewing their schedule’ and have offered customers travelling from the quarantined zone full refunds.

Customers who booked with BA – which has already scrapped hundreds of long-haul flights due to the killer bug – before April 2 have the option to change their booking up to another date up to the end of May, or to fly via Zurich or Geneva instead.

Meanwhile EasyJet will cancel some flights to and from the region up until April 3 – when the lockdown affecting 16 million people and covering much of the north – including Milan will end.  

The Foreign Office advises 14 days of self isolation once back in Britain – but there is nothing stopping people from using public transport or entering crowded places on their way home. 

People evacuated from Wuhan – the epicentre of the outbreak –  were quarantined for 14 days in an isolation compound. 

A BA spokesperson said: ‘Following the change to the UK Government travel advice for Northern Italy, we are reviewing our schedule, and have contacted all customers who are due to travel today.

‘We are also offering customers booked to fly before April 2, the option to change their booking up to another date up to the end of May, or to fly via Zurich or Geneva instead.’

An EasyJet spokesperson said: ‘We will provide a further update on our schedule in due course.’ 

Weddings and funerals have been banned under the tough new health measures while museums, cinemas, shopping centres and restaurants have all been hit by new restrictions. 

Bars and restaurants can remain open as long as customers stay three feet apart – but will be shut down if their guests are found to be getting too close to each other. 

Schools have already been shut down across the country until March 15, with schools and universities in Lombardy and the ‘orange zone’ areas due to remain closed until at least April 3.   

The Pope, who has been ill in recent weeks, held his Sunday blessing by video instead of in person and described feeling like he was ‘in a cage’.     

Italian police will be setting up controls at train stations to check people’s temperatures, and stopping all cars on main roads in and out to verify the reason for travel, officials said.

Cruise ships will be forbidden from docking in Venice, with only passengers who are residents of the lagoon city allowed to disembark.

Alitalia suspended national and international flights to and from Milan Malpensa airport, and announced it was operating only domestic routes from Milan Linate.

The borders with Austria, Switzerland and Slovenia remain open.  

Speaking to La Repubblica, prime minister Conte also vowed a course of ‘massive shock therapy’ to aid the Italian economy after much of its industrial and business heartland was shut down. 

The Milan stock market, which was already down some 17 per cent since the outbreak in northern Italy, plunged at Monday’s opening, with the blue chip FTMIB index down 11 per cent. 

Matching similar calls from France, Conte said strict European Union borrowing limits should be loosened to allow more room for manoeuvre, and that the flexibility envisaged by the EU’s budget rules should be used ‘in full’.

‘Europe cannot think of confronting an extraordinary situation with ordinary measures,’ he said. 

The European Commission told Italy on Saturday that its planned extra spending in response to the outbreak would not be counted in measuring its compliance with EU budget rules.  

‘The economic measures in the works will be vigorous, commensurate to current needs, but temporary,’ the economy ministry said, adding that Italy remained committed to reducing its debt as soon as possible. 

The ministry also said it would ‘spare no effort’ in ensuring that measures were agreed at a European level. 

While a quarter of Italy‘s population faces life in quarantine, Britons in the coronavirus-ridden zone are free to travel home without restrictions. British Airways, Ryanair and EasyJet still have Milan flights available to book on their website.  

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office confirmed that British tourists in the northern parts of the country ‘are free to return home or complete their holiday’ under guidelines from the Italian government.

They said UK nationals will not be met by anyone at the airport in Britain, nor will they be put into quarantine or told to take a test for the bug which has so killed more than 3,600 worldwide and has infected more than 100,000. 

The FCO updated its advice on Sunday night, advising against all but essential travel to a wider area of northern Italy due to the crisis. 

The move has been made following consultations with Italian authorities and the chief medical officer, the department said.    

A map showing the latest number of infections and deaths in the world's major coronavirus hotspots, including Italy

A map showing the latest number of infections and deaths in the world's major coronavirus hotspots, including Italy

A map showing the latest number of infections and deaths in the world’s major coronavirus hotspots, including Italy

Inmates stage a protest on the roof of the San Vittore prison in Milan today, in northern Italy where drastic new measures have been imposed to stop the spread of coronavirus

Inmates stage a protest on the roof of the San Vittore prison in Milan today, in northern Italy where drastic new measures have been imposed to stop the spread of coronavirus

Inmates stage a protest on the roof of the San Vittore prison in Milan today, in northern Italy where drastic new measures have been imposed to stop the spread of coronavirus 

A relative of an Italian prison inmate clashes with police outside the SantAnna jail in Modena today, where six prisoners died yesterday following riots

A relative of an Italian prison inmate clashes with police outside the SantAnna jail in Modena today, where six prisoners died yesterday following riots

A relative of an Italian prison inmate clashes with police outside the SantAnna jail in Modena today, where six prisoners died yesterday following riots 

Inmates protest on a wall of the Poggioreale prison in Naples yesterday, in southern Italy outside the area that has been quarantined

Inmates protest on a wall of the Poggioreale prison in Naples yesterday, in southern Italy outside the area that has been quarantined

Inmates protest on a wall of the Poggioreale prison in Naples yesterday, in southern Italy outside the area that has been quarantined 

Health personnel carry out checks on passengers arriving in the city of Potenza on a high-speed train from Milan today

Health personnel carry out checks on passengers arriving in the city of Potenza on a high-speed train from Milan today

Health personnel carry out checks on passengers arriving in the city of Potenza on a high-speed train from Milan today

Two-year-old Bianca Toniolo has a picnic with a doll at home in San Fiorano, on the 17th day of quarantine in one of the 11 small towns that were initially placed under lockdown

Two-year-old Bianca Toniolo has a picnic with a doll at home in San Fiorano, on the 17th day of quarantine in one of the 11 small towns that were initially placed under lockdown

Two-year-old Bianca Toniolo has a picnic with a doll at home in San Fiorano, on the 17th day of quarantine in one of the 11 small towns that were initially placed under lockdown 

People wearing protective masks rest at Malpensa airport near Milan this morning, where some flights are still running

People wearing protective masks rest at Malpensa airport near Milan this morning, where some flights are still running

People wearing protective masks rest at Malpensa airport near Milan this morning, where some flights are still running

Passengers depart from a train in Naples which arrived from Milan as people scrambled to flee from quarantined regions of northern Italy

Passengers depart from a train in Naples which arrived from Milan as people scrambled to flee from quarantined regions of northern Italy

Passengers depart from a train in Naples which arrived from Milan as people scrambled to flee from quarantined regions of northern Italy

Relatives of inmates gather outside the SantAnna prison in Modena, Emilia-Romagna, amid a revolt over new virus measures

Relatives of inmates gather outside the SantAnna prison in Modena, Emilia-Romagna, amid a revolt over new virus measures

Relatives of inmates gather outside the SantAnna prison in Modena, Emilia-Romagna, amid a revolt over new virus measures

Medical officers check passengers on a Flixbus coach in Salerno yesterday after it had travelled through several Italian cities

Medical officers check passengers on a Flixbus coach in Salerno yesterday after it had travelled through several Italian cities

Medical officers check passengers on a Flixbus coach in Salerno yesterday after it had travelled through several Italian cities

An interior view of the nearly-empty Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II arcade, Italy's oldest shopping mall, in Milan on Monday

An interior view of the nearly-empty Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II arcade, Italy's oldest shopping mall, in Milan on Monday

An interior view of the nearly-empty Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II arcade, Italy’s oldest shopping mall, in Milan on Monday

An almost completely empty St Mark's Square in Venice is seen today after the city was declared part of the quarantine zone

An almost completely empty St Mark's Square in Venice is seen today after the city was declared part of the quarantine zone

An almost completely empty St Mark’s Square in Venice is seen today after the city was declared part of the quarantine zone

Police officers speak to railway passengers next to a high-speed train at Venice Santa Lucia station. The departure board behind them indicates that the train is destined for Rome

Police officers speak to railway passengers next to a high-speed train at Venice Santa Lucia station. The departure board behind them indicates that the train is destined for Rome

Police officers speak to railway passengers next to a high-speed train at Venice Santa Lucia station. The departure board behind them indicates that the train is destined for Rome 

An employee of the Venice municipal transport company walks to her workplace in Piazza San Marco in the lagoon city

An employee of the Venice municipal transport company walks to her workplace in Piazza San Marco in the lagoon city

An employee of the Venice municipal transport company walks to her workplace in Piazza San Marco in the lagoon city 

A bar was almost empty in Galleria Vittorio Emanuele in Milan yesterday amid coronavirus panic as concerned residents and tourists opt to stay inside

A bar was almost empty in Galleria Vittorio Emanuele in Milan yesterday amid coronavirus panic as concerned residents and tourists opt to stay inside

A bar was almost empty in Galleria Vittorio Emanuele in Milan yesterday amid coronavirus panic as concerned residents and tourists opt to stay inside

The usually-bustling streets in Milan's city centre were strangely quiet of both traffic and people as coronavirus fears rage on

The usually-bustling streets in Milan's city centre were strangely quiet of both traffic and people as coronavirus fears rage on

The usually-bustling streets in Milan’s city centre were strangely quiet of both traffic and people as coronavirus fears rage on

Mass panic swept in after the Italian government imposed a quarantine affecting 16 million people in the country's northern region in a bid to combat the spread of deadly coronavirus. Pictured: People queue at bus stations trying to leave Lampugnano

Mass panic swept in after the Italian government imposed a quarantine affecting 16 million people in the country's northern region in a bid to combat the spread of deadly coronavirus. Pictured: People queue at bus stations trying to leave Lampugnano

Mass panic swept in after the Italian government imposed a quarantine affecting 16 million people in the country’s northern region in a bid to combat the spread of deadly coronavirus. Pictured: People queue at bus stations trying to leave Lampugnano

Panicked shoppers queue to buy food in Via Rubattino, Milan, after it was announced that multiple regions of northern Italy would be quarantined

Panicked shoppers queue to buy food in Via Rubattino, Milan, after it was announced that multiple regions of northern Italy would be quarantined

Panicked shoppers queue to buy food in Via Rubattino, Milan, after it was announced that multiple regions of northern Italy would be quarantined

Medical officers checking the travellers of a bus coming from the red zone in Salerno today. Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte prolonged the closure of schools until April 3 and closed Lombardy and 14 other provinces of the central north due to the coronavirus epidemic

Medical officers checking the travellers of a bus coming from the red zone in Salerno today. Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte prolonged the closure of schools until April 3 and closed Lombardy and 14 other provinces of the central north due to the coronavirus epidemic

Medical officers checking the travellers of a bus coming from the red zone in Salerno today. Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte prolonged the closure of schools until April 3 and closed Lombardy and 14 other provinces of the central north due to the coronavirus epidemic

Medical officers in Salerno checking travellers on a bus coming from the red zone in Italy. Many people have travelled to southern Italy to reach their families of origin before the lockdown was complete, forcing the Italian authorities to intensify the checks at the arrival stations

Medical officers in Salerno checking travellers on a bus coming from the red zone in Italy. Many people have travelled to southern Italy to reach their families of origin before the lockdown was complete, forcing the Italian authorities to intensify the checks at the arrival stations

Medical officers in Salerno checking travellers on a bus coming from the red zone in Italy. Many people have travelled to southern Italy to reach their families of origin before the lockdown was complete, forcing the Italian authorities to intensify the checks at the arrival stations

What measures are in place to stop virus spread from Italy to Britain?

Public Health England says all cabin crew are briefed on coronavirus symptoms and what to do if someone reports feeling ill onboard a flight. 

The captain is to call ahead to warn of any illness and a risk assessment will be carried out before passengers are let off the plane.

It is possible to transmit the virus without any symptoms. 

A ‘bespoke poster for Italy’ will be given to travellers from Italy to inform them of what areas are affected.

Information on symptoms and actions are provided to passengers.

This protocol has been in place for northern Italy since March 4 and will be rolled out for the whole of Italy by March 11.

Heathrow Airport says it has ‘enhanced thorough cleaning processes and increased the amount of hand sanitisers for staff.

Vincenzo Tosetti, a 34-year old actor and Venice resident, said that ‘many people I know have fled, mainly from Milan.

‘This is going to test the Italians’ ability to behave responsibly, and I have to say that up until now they’ve been failing. There’s been an exodus’.

Fellow Venetian Giancarlo, 49, who did not want to give his last name, said ‘you can feel the anxiety in the air’.

The floating city was also virtually empty of tourists, which was ‘a big blow’. ‘First the city was hit by record floods [last autumn], now this. Venice is very fragile right now,’ he said.  

The virus has now spread to all 22 Italian regions, and the first deaths are being recorded in Italy’s less well medically equipped south.

The head of the Puglia region in southern Italy pleaded with anyone thinking of returning from Lombardy and the other 11 provinces in lockdown – which include the cities of Parma and Rimini – to ‘stop and turn around’.

‘Get off (the train) at the first station, don’t get on the flights to Bari and Brindisi, turn your cars around, get off the bus at the next stop. Don’t bring the epidemic to Puglia,’ he said on Facebook.

‘You are carrying to the lungs of your brothers and sisters, grandparents, uncles, cousins and parents the virus that has severely strained the health system in northern Italy,’ he said.  

Meanwhile, six prisoners have died after a series of jailhouse riots across Italy which were sparked by tough new measures to stop the spread of the virus. 

Inmates set their prison on fire in Modena yesterday in an angry protest over a ban on family visits, unions said. 

Six inmates are confirmed to have died, including three who had been transferred to different prisons as authorities tried to quell the uprising. 

Justice ministry sources said two of the deaths in Modena were caused by an overdose from drugs found in the jail infirmaries, while a third prisoner was found blue in the face and their cause of death was still unclear. 

Police were today clashing with relatives who had gathered outside the jail, in northern Italy which is at the centre of the virus outbreak.   

The riot was one of several around the country with other disturbances taking place in Salerno, Naples and Milan among others.  

While regions of Italy are under an extreme quarantine in which people face a three-month prison sentence for leaving locked-down areas, Britons in the coronavirus-ridden zone are free to travel home without facing penalties. Pictured: Travellers at Linate, Milan’s city airport

The Foreign Office confirmed that British tourists in the northern parts of the country 'are free to return home or complete their holiday' under guidelines from the Italian government. Pictured: Linate airport in Milan

The Foreign Office confirmed that British tourists in the northern parts of the country 'are free to return home or complete their holiday' under guidelines from the Italian government. Pictured: Linate airport in Milan

The Foreign Office confirmed that British tourists in the northern parts of the country ‘are free to return home or complete their holiday’ under guidelines from the Italian government. Pictured: Linate airport in Milan

A passenger wearing a protective face mask, amid concerns about coronavirus, walks in Linate Airport in Milan

A passenger wearing a protective face mask, amid concerns about coronavirus, walks in Linate Airport in Milan

A passenger wearing a protective face mask, amid concerns about coronavirus, walks in Linate Airport in Milan

Manzoni street in Milan is almost empty following the government-imposed quarantine. Vespas line the street where just a handful of people are seen walking

Manzoni street in Milan is almost empty following the government-imposed quarantine. Vespas line the street where just a handful of people are seen walking

Manzoni street in Milan is almost empty following the government-imposed quarantine. Vespas line the street where just a handful of people are seen walking

A woman sleeps wearing a protective face mask on a bus as she waits to leave Milan

A woman sleeps wearing a protective face mask on a bus as she waits to leave Milan

One traveller wearing a face masks sits on a bus as it gets ready to leave Lampugnano, Milan

One traveller wearing a face masks sits on a bus as it gets ready to leave Lampugnano, Milan

People on buses wear protective face masks as they wait to flee Lampugnano, Milan, after the area was put on lockdown

A doctor can be seen in the pre-triage tent of the Civil Protection in Villa Sofia in a bid to combat the outbreak in Palermo, Italy

A doctor can be seen in the pre-triage tent of the Civil Protection in Villa Sofia in a bid to combat the outbreak in Palermo, Italy

A doctor can be seen in the pre-triage tent of the Civil Protection in Villa Sofia in a bid to combat the outbreak in Palermo, Italy

According to Il Corriere, a group of 60 inmates set fire to the prison in Modena after the tough new measures were announced. 

Footage broadcast by local media showed police and fire trucks outside the prison as black smoke swirled into the sky. 

Around 500 people were at risk of escaping until authorities laid siege to the penitentiary and eventually stormed the building. 

Once inside, they discovered a ‘surreal scene and a devastated building’, reports say, seizing a supply of drugs. 

The head of Italy’s prison service, Francesco Basentini, said three inmates had at the jail and three others had died after being transferred to other prisons. 

‘There have been a series of rebellions across the country,’ Basentini said in a televised interview. 

Prison officers’ union Sappe said some 80 prisoners had been transferred to other jails after the uprising. 

‘The inmates that have been moved were those who managed to reach the yard in a bid to escape,’ Seppe’s secretary general Giovanni Battista Durante said.  

‘We are told other prisoners inside the jail have barricaded themselves in and probably have illegal weapons’. He said colleagues from the prison had told him the jail had been ‘completely destroyed’.    

Staff check the temperature of a man before he goes into the AC Milan and Genoa CFC game at San Siro, Milan, today

Staff check the temperature of a man before he goes into the AC Milan and Genoa CFC game at San Siro, Milan, today

Staff check the temperature of a man before he goes into the AC Milan and Genoa CFC game at San Siro, Milan, today

Officials set up temperature checks at the entrance of the Luigi Ferraris stadium for spectators attending the Serie A soccer match between Sampdoria and Verona. Some matches in the Italian league played on despite calls from Italy's sports minister and players' association president to suspend the games

Officials set up temperature checks at the entrance of the Luigi Ferraris stadium for spectators attending the Serie A soccer match between Sampdoria and Verona. Some matches in the Italian league played on despite calls from Italy's sports minister and players' association president to suspend the games

Officials set up temperature checks at the entrance of the Luigi Ferraris stadium for spectators attending the Serie A soccer match between Sampdoria and Verona. Some matches in the Italian league played on despite calls from Italy’s sports minister and players’ association president to suspend the games

Sunday's AC Milan and Genoa CFC Serie A football match at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza was played behind closed doors to limit the spread of deadly coronavirus

Sunday's AC Milan and Genoa CFC Serie A football match at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza was played behind closed doors to limit the spread of deadly coronavirus

Sunday’s AC Milan and Genoa CFC Serie A football match at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza was played behind closed doors to limit the spread of deadly coronavirus

A health staff checking the body temperature of a man arriving at the Juventus stadium before the Italian Serie A football match between Juventus and Inter Milan which will be played behind closed doors in Turin today

A health staff checking the body temperature of a man arriving at the Juventus stadium before the Italian Serie A football match between Juventus and Inter Milan which will be played behind closed doors in Turin today

A health staff checking the body temperature of a man arriving at the Juventus stadium before the Italian Serie A football match between Juventus and Inter Milan which will be played behind closed doors in Turin today

A man having his temperature screened outside the Allianz Stadium in Turin today as the number of coronavirus cases grows around the world

A man having his temperature screened outside the Allianz Stadium in Turin today as the number of coronavirus cases grows around the world

A man having his temperature screened outside the Allianz Stadium in Turin today as the number of coronavirus cases grows around the world

Empty seats inside the Allianz Stadium before the match between Juventus and Inter Milan is played behind closed doors

Empty seats inside the Allianz Stadium before the match between Juventus and Inter Milan is played behind closed doors

Empty seats inside the Allianz Stadium before the match between Juventus and Inter Milan is played behind closed doors

Pope Francis delivered his Angelus prayer on a giant screen, in St. Peter's Square, at the Vatican and voiced his support for the victims

Pope Francis delivered his Angelus prayer on a giant screen, in St. Peter's Square, at the Vatican and voiced his support for the victims

Pope Francis delivered his Angelus prayer on a giant screen, in St. Peter’s Square, at the Vatican and voiced his support for the victims

People in face masks walk in St. Peter's Square as Pope Francis delivers his weekly Angelus prayer via video for the first time

People in face masks walk in St. Peter's Square as Pope Francis delivers his weekly Angelus prayer via video for the first time

People in face masks walk in St. Peter’s Square as Pope Francis delivers his weekly Angelus prayer via video for the first time

The Pope did venture to his window overlooking St. Peter's Square to wave at the crowds who gathered to watch him deliver his prayer via a live stream

The Pope did venture to his window overlooking St. Peter's Square to wave at the crowds who gathered to watch him deliver his prayer via a live stream

The Pope did venture to his window overlooking St. Peter’s Square to wave at the crowds who gathered to watch him deliver his prayer via a live stream

Rows of empty chairs could be seen in front of St Peter's Square, Vatican City, as the Pope delivers his address on a screen

Rows of empty chairs could be seen in front of St Peter's Square, Vatican City, as the Pope delivers his address on a screen

Rows of empty chairs could be seen in front of St Peter’s Square, Vatican City, as the Pope delivers his address on a screen

News of the impending quarantine was leaked to Italian media early, prompting further chaos as people rushed to get out of the affected areas.

The leak infuriated Conte, who slammed it as ‘unacceptable’, saying it had created ‘uncertainty, anxiety, (and) confusion’.  

Pina Antinucci, a psychoanalyst in her 60s who lives in Milan, told AFP she was suffering nightmares and felt the state was ‘bombarding us with anxieties, spreading paranoia’.

‘I’d like to know if I’m infected… it would be better to know if I have that unwanted guest who occupies our homes, minds and lives,’ she said.  

Massimo Galli, the head of a team of doctors from the Biomedical Research Institute in Milan who identified the Italian strain last month, said the leak had been a ‘disastrous communication error’ and ‘absolute idiocracy’.

Italian virologist Roberto Burioni described the leak on Twitter as ‘pure madness’.

‘The draft of a very harsh decree is leaked, sparking panic and prompting people to try and flee the (then) theoretical red zone, carrying the virus with them,’ he said on social media. 

Airline Alitalia said it was suspending national and international flights to and from Milan’s Malpensa airport from March 9 after the government ordered a lockdown of large areas of northern Italy.

In a statement, the Italian flag carrier said it would operate only national flights from the smaller Milan Linate airport, and reduce the number of flights between Venice and Rome.

International routes will be served from Rome’s Fiumicino airport. The new regime will continue until at least April 3, the airline said.

Meanwhile, Pope Francis broke with centuries of tradition by enlisting the help of technology for his weekly Angelus prayer.

‘I am close through prayer with the people who suffer from the current coronavirus epidemic,’ the 83-year-old pontiff said in a message recorded at the Vatican library and aired live on a screen on Saint Peter’s Square.

The Pope himself tested negative for the contagion after he fell ill on Ash Wednesday with symptoms of a cold including a cough, fever, chills and sore throat.       

Milan's Via Senato - usually bustling with busy shoppers - was left nearly deserted as coronavirus fears escalate in Italy's northern regions

Milan's Via Senato - usually bustling with busy shoppers - was left nearly deserted as coronavirus fears escalate in Italy's northern regions

Milan’s Via Senato – usually bustling with busy shoppers – was left nearly deserted as coronavirus fears escalate in Italy’s northern regions

Italy has the highest number of cases outside China, the epicentre of the killer bug, overtaking South Korea. Pictured: A man wearing a protective mask passes by the Coliseum in Rome

Italy has the highest number of cases outside China, the epicentre of the killer bug, overtaking South Korea. Pictured: A man wearing a protective mask passes by the Coliseum in Rome

Italy has the highest number of cases outside China, the epicentre of the killer bug, overtaking South Korea. Pictured: A man wearing a protective mask passes by the Coliseum in Rome 

The Vatican is also unrolling unprecedented health precautions designed to keep the tiny city state's 450 mostly elderly residents safe. Pictured: A man wearing a mask in St Peter's Square at the Vatican

The Vatican is also unrolling unprecedented health precautions designed to keep the tiny city state's 450 mostly elderly residents safe. Pictured: A man wearing a mask in St Peter's Square at the Vatican

The Vatican is also unrolling unprecedented health precautions designed to keep the tiny city state’s 450 mostly elderly residents safe. Pictured: A man wearing a mask in St Peter’s Square at the Vatican

Milan's iconic Duomo square is virtually deserted after Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte put the city - that is in Italy's Lombardy region - on lockdown

Milan's iconic Duomo square is virtually deserted after Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte put the city - that is in Italy's Lombardy region - on lockdown

Milan’s iconic Duomo square is virtually deserted after Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte put the city – that is in Italy’s Lombardy region – on lockdown

A man wearing a face mask in Milan, where streets have been left virtually empty after the Prime Minister issued a decree for mass lock downs in the north that will continue until April 3

A man wearing a face mask in Milan, where streets have been left virtually empty after the Prime Minister issued a decree for mass lock downs in the north that will continue until April 3

A man wearing a face mask in Milan, where streets have been left virtually empty after the Prime Minister issued a decree for mass lock downs in the north that will continue until April 3

Italian football was also plunged into chaos as Serie A match between Parma and SPAL faced a last-minute delay following a call from Italy’s sports minister to suspend the league during the outbreak. 

Players faced a 75-minute wait for kick-off inside an empty stadium as officials considered an appeal from sports minister Vincenzo Spadafora minutes before the scheduled start.

Spadafora said he supported a call from Italian soccer players’ association president Damiano Tommasi to avoid putting players at risk amid the virus outbreak.  

Some had voiced growing anger over the idea of having to play matches during the coronavirus outbreak.

‘It doesn’t make sense right now, when we’re requesting enormous sacrifices of our citizens in order to stop the spread of contagion, to put at risk the health of the players, referees, coaches and fans,’ Spadafora said. 

The Italian league replied that it was following government orders to hold games in empty stadiums.

‘The repeated and contrasting government statements only add to the general state of confusion and definitely don’t help the system overcome the difficult time caused by the virus,’ a league statement said. 

Five Serie A matches took place Sunday, beginning with Parma v Spal at lunchtime and concluding with Juventus v Inter Milan in the evening. All of the matches had already been postponed from last weekend.

An appeal by Spadafora for this weekend’s games to be shown on free TV ‘considering the serious inconvenience affecting the population in this difficult time’ was rejected by the league.

‘The minister has gone from asking for the games to be shown for free to suspending the league, amid a decree to play behind closed doors,’ Cagliari president Tommaso Giulini said. ‘Italy needs clarity and gravitas right now, not populist proclamations.’ 

Source: Daily Mail – Articles

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