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Italy quarantines 16 million people over coronavirus fears

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has ordered the lockdown of the country's northern region of Lombardy and 14 provinces in a shot to halt the spread of a brand new coronavirus.
The move, announced on Saturday, places some 16 million people within the new red zones until April 3.

"We understand that these measures would require sacrifices, but this can be the movement of self-responsibility," Conte said in an exceedingly conference on Sunday.

The drastic move comes after tests revealed a giant increase within the number of coronavirus infections. In its daily update, Italy's civil protection agency said on Saturday that the quantity of infected people rose by 1,247, bringing the overall to five,883.

Among those infected is that the head of the co-ruling Democratic Party, Nicola Zingaretti.

In addition to Lombardy, the quarantine area has been extended to the provinces of Modena, Parma, Piacenza, Reggio Emilia, Rimini, Pesaro e Urbino, Venezia, Padova, Treviso, Asti, Vercelli, Novara, Verbano Cusio Ossola and Alessandria.

The government's decision restricts all movements within the quarantined area. Police forces will patrol the roads in these provinces.

Those who enter or exit the region without a big and "not deferrable" work reason or a health emergency are fined.

"This isn't a ban on any movement, but citizens will must justify them," Conte said.

Museums are closed and any varieties of civil ceremonies, including funerals, are suspended. Bars and pubs that may guarantee a distance of 1 metre (3.3 feet) between customers are open but will close their doors at 6pm.

Gyms, swimming pools, theatres and betting shops will close and athletes are forced to coach indoors with none crowd.

"We must act to avoid the spread of the infection and also the overload of our health system," Conte said.

In recent days, concerns are raised over the supply of medical aid for the foremost vulnerable and affected patients.
Running out of space
On Friday, the association of medical directors (ANAAO) sounded an alarm over an absence of beds in medical aid wards in Lombardy hospitals.

Almost 95 percent of these wards are full, the organisation added.

"We foresee 18,000 patients admitted to hospitals by March 26. Around 2,700 to 3,200 of those would require medical aid," Antonio Pesenti, coordinator of medical aid units in Lombardy, told the Corriere della Sera newspaper.

"Today, we have already got over 1,000 patients in medical aid or whose condition can exasperate at any time."

Regional authorities have sceptically accepted the new decision by the prime minister.

"It goes within the right direction, but i have to underline that it's quite messy," said Lombardy Governor Attilio Fontana of the right-wing League party.

Luca Zaia, another League leader and president of the Veneto region, which has Venice and other cities entered within the red zone, has fiercely opposed the decree, considering it "excessive".

"We are handling some limited clusters that do not affect the general general population, so I cannot understand the explanation behind such a disproportionate action," Zaia wrote on Facebook.

Carlo Calenda, head of the liberal Action party, believes the $64000 problem lay within the vagueness of the orders.

"It's impossible to adopt these them. does one block the roads with the army?", he tweeted early within the morning.

A draft of the govt. order was leaked to the press and it absolutely was circulated widely on Saturday night, prompting a rush to depart the red-zone areas.

La Repubblica newspaper reported that in Milan, about 500 people dashed to the train stations, trying to require the last trains out.

"That's crazy. A severe decree is leaked, people panic and check out to flee from a hypothetical red zone, taking the infection with them. In the end, the sole effect is to assist the spread of the virus," virologist and scientific communicator Roberto Burioni tweeted on Saturday night.

Conte criticised the leak and also the spread of the unsigned draft, saying it created "uncertainty and confusion".

"I think this drastic measure was necessary," Federico Iaccarino, a 33-year-old electronic engineer from Naples who lives in Milan, told the Al Jazeera wire service.

"These days people go skiing or visit the lakeside. Yesterday, people crowded the bars on Sempione Street. They didn't understand how serious the case was."

Unclear economic consequences
The quarantine will take over the Italian economic zones. a few third of the national gross domestic product (GDP) comes from the regions of Lombardy and Veneto.

According to the financial service company Moody's, Italy's GDP will decrease by 0.5 percent this year.

"When considering the acquisition of consumer goods, the general public will wait and see what happens, and this features a potential recessive effect on the economy," Francesco Daveri, professor of Macroeconomics Practice at Bocconi University, told Al Jazeera.

The real impact of the lockdown will mostly rely on the definition of "not deferrable activity".

"Is the delivery of business goods deferrable or not? What if you missed a very important one and your business went bankrupt? These are all aspects that are needed to be clarified," said Daveri. "I fear that within the end, everything will rely on our civic sense."


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