The Italian government has decided to close all schools and universities in the country from Thursday until mid-March to limit the spread of the new coronavirus, Ansa news agency reported on Wednesday. The Italian authorities are expected to confirm the decision “in the next few hours”.
The decision comes after a council of ministers and in the wake of suggestions made Tuesday at the scientific technical committee, which recommend in particular to maintain a safe distance between people, to avoid handshakes and kisses, and play football matches behind closed doors.
Italy is the third country most affected in the world by this epidemic of viral pneumonia, after China and South Korea: 79 infected people have died in the country which has a total of 2,502 cases, according to a count published Tuesday.
Italy is the third country most affected in the world by this epidemic of viral pneumonia, after China and South Korea: 79 infected people have died in the country, which has a total of 2,502 cases, according to a count published Tuesday.
Lombardy (the Milan region), Emilia-Romagna and Veneto (around Venice) are the three regions most affected. The 21 Italian regions have identified cases of contagion, with the exception of Valle D’Aosta, which borders France.
The main Italian fatal cases were elderly people – on average octogenarians and nonagenarians – or suffering from previous pathologies, according to the Civil Protection.
In addition to the safety distance of one meter to respect between people, it is recommended to “sneeze and cough in a handkerchief avoiding contact of the hands with respiratory secretions” and “to avoid the exchange of bottles and glasses, especially during sports “.
Eleven municipalities in the north of the country have so far been placed in the “red zone”, under quarantine. It was there that the main focus of the Italian epidemic was identified, in Codogno, 60 km south of Milan.
Italy has so far carried out 25,856 tests on people who may have been infected, one of the highest number of exams in Europe.
The Italian economy, already anemic, is affected by the epidemic, in particular the tourism sector which represents 13% of the GDP. The professional association Confturismo-Confcommercio (tourism and trade) thus forecasts 31.6 million fewer tourists for the period from March 1 to May 31, representing a loss of 7.4 billion euros.
“The worst virus is hysteria, because of which we (Italians, note) are considered to be vectors of contagion,” commented the president of Confturismo-Confcommercio, Luca Patane.