Hundreds of passengers were filmed desperately boarding one of the last trains out of Milan ahead of a near total lockdown on movement as the Italian government tries to stem the growing coronavirus threat.
Former Italian deputy prime minister Matteo Salvini shared a video from Garibaldi station in Milan and said: ‘Masses of people in the late Saturday evening storm the last trains leaving Lombardy after the draft coronavirus decree filtered by the Government.’
Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced measures in what is the most radical quarantine zone outside of China. Lombardy and 14 other central and northern regions are affected, with museums, gyms and ski resorts closed, as well as high-profile football matches being played behind closed doors.
The near total shutdown affects an estimated 16 million people, roughly a quarter of the Italian population. The number of Covid-19 deaths reported in Italy now stands at 233, more than any other country outside China, the source of the outbreak.
Italy’s clampdown will remain in place until April 3. It bars people entering or leaving large swathes of its northern region without ‘good reason’.
The zone covers popular tourist destination Venice as well as the county’s financial heartbeat, Milan.
The government enacted the draft just hours after officials announced the number of coronavirus cases had leapt by more than 1,200 in a 24-hour period – the biggest daily rise since the epidemic began in the country two weeks ago.
Deaths due to the virus have also risen, by 36 to 233, while the number of patients in intensive care climbed to 567, up 23 per cent in just one day. Of the 5,883 Italians originally infected, 589 have fully recovered.
Prime Minister Conte held a news conference in the middle of the night to alleviate confusion over his plans. He said: ‘There will be no movement in or out of these areas, or within them, unless for proven, work-related reasons, emergencies or health reasons.’
Under the terms of the lockdown, people are able to leave in order to return home if they were in the affected zone, including tourists. But they are advised to then self quarantine.
One student returned to Florence and will spend the next fortnight avoiding all social contact instead of going back to where she studies in Milan ‘because everything there would be closed’.
She told the Metro: ‘If you canprove you live in the city you can get in to Milan but you cannot leave nowunless you have a valid reason such as work or health related issues.’
Pope Francis expressed solidarity with the victims during his first live-streamed Sunday service from the Vatican.
‘I join my brother bishops inencouraging the faithful to live this difficult moment with the strength offaith, the certainty of hope and the fervour of charity,’ he said.
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