The Italian Civil Protection Agency announced on Wednesday, March 18, that the death toll from the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak reached 475 over a 24-hour period. This represents the highest death toll recorded in a single day since the beginning of the outbreak in the country. Italy has also recorded a significant number of recoveries with another 1084 people recuperated over the same time span. As of Thursday, March 19, health officials have confirmed 35,713 COVID-19 cases nationwide along with 2978 fatalities, and 4025 recoveries.
Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte also announced on Thursday, March 19, that Italians will likely remain under lockdown beyond the previous Wednesday, March 25, deadline, though no specific dates were immediately announced.
Under the lockdown measures, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte is advising all individuals in the country to stay at home. All non-essential businesses are closed including museums, cinemas, resorts, retail, restaurants, and personal services. Public gatherings remain suspended nationwide. All individuals are recommended to work from home and respect an interpersonal distance of 1 m (3 ft). Essential services such as the agriculture, finance, and public transport sectors remain operational, as well as pharmacies and markets selling only foodstuffs. Prime Minister Conte clarified that catering services such as canteens and food and drink establishments in the vicinity of public transport can only operate if they can guarantee a distance of 1 m (3 ft) between persons. He also said that interregional automotive services as well as rail, air, and sea transport services will be reduced. However, any individual requiring essential travel must first have police permission.
On Tuesday, March 17, Italian authorities announced that all Italian nationals entering the country from abroad will be subject to a mandatory self-isolation of 14 days. This measure will be in place through Wednesday, March 25. Those who enter Italy for valid working reasons and leave the country within 72 hours are exempt from the policy.
Further international spread of the virus is expected over the coming days and weeks.
The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.
Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a pandemic.
Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and labored breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.
Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone nonessential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.
To reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:
- Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.
- When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
- If experiencing a fever, cough, difficulty breathing, or any other symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness, including pneumonia, call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the virus.
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