Italy has been put under a dramatic total lockdown, as the coronavirus spreads in the country. Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced that he is extending restrictions already in place in the north.
“All the measure of the red zones are now extended to all of the national territory,” Conte said at a press conference on Monday evening as he also announced a ban on all public events.
The Prime Minister said the move was taken in order to protect the population, and especially the most fragile individuals. His announcement came at the end of a chaotic day that saw prison riots across the country.
Ninety-seven people have died of the novel coronavirus since Sunday in Italy, bringing its total number of deaths to 463. The country has 9,172 cases so far, the most of any European country.
Over the weekend, blanket travel restrictions were announced in just certain areas. The rest of the country will now join the northern provinces under lockdown – one of the toughest responses implemented outside of mainland China to get the Covid-19 pandemic under control.
The coordinator for intensive care in the crisis unit for the northern Lombardy region told CNN that Lombardy’s health care system was “one step from collapse” despite efforts to free up hospital beds.
“We are now being forced to set up intensive care treatment in corridors,” Antonio Pesenti said. “We’ve emptied entire hospital sections to make space for seriously sick people.”
He described seeing “a tsunami of patients,” adding that there could be 18,000 patients in hospital by the end of the month if the virus continues to spread.
“I’ve never seen anything like this,” he said. “Italians should be worried.”
Lombardy President Attilio Fontana said in a statement said the new lockdown measures may not be enough.
“A necessary step but, I fear, still insufficient,” Fontana said. “The numbers in Lombardy and in the rest of the country show that the contagion is constantly expanding, with all consequences we know starting with the overload of work in hospitals, in particular in intensive care.”
Under the previous north-only lockdown, checks on compliance with the movement ban were to be carried out on main highways and along smaller roads by the Carabinieri (military police) and municipal police forces, while railway police, health authority workers and civil protection staff using thermoscan appliances will enforce the travel ban on the state’s railways.
Travelers, including those departing or arriving in the containment regions by airplane, were to be checked to see whether they have a self-declared travel exemption.
Checks were also introduced for cruise ship passengers arriving in Venice, who will not be able to disembark to visit the city, but will only be able to return to their place of residence or country of origin.
Michele De Marsico told CNN at a Milan train station on Sunday that he was trying to work out how to return to southern Italy. “I was worried, so I came here to