Authorities have imposed a virtual ban on entry and exit in Lombardy, Italy’s northern area where a fifth of the country’s GDP is produced.
Italy’s coronavirus cases fit remarkably well on an exponential curve, which is unlikely to reassure anyone. Italy has struggled to contain the outbreak from the very beginning, and to this day has not found out who Patient 0 is.
The country has now announced the closure of gyms, pools, museums, and ski resorts. Football games were played without an audience, and large gatherings were banned. But the severe escalation in the country’s efforts to contain the new deadly coronavirus will also see the quarantine of Lombardy (the area around Milan and tourist hotspot Venice), starting as early as possible and lasting for at least a month.
The region is an economic powerhouse, supporting much of Italy’s industrial and touristic business. Closing it down is not a decision Italy would take lightly. It’s the most severe containment measure outside of China in modern history.
However, it’s hard to feel like the measure is not justified.
Just fifteen days ago, Italy had a mere 20 cases — now, that number has grown to almost 6,000, as the number of fatalities has grown to 230. Authorities reported more than 50 fatalities within a single day, and for some reason, it seems that the fatality rate is much higher in Italy than in other parts. The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases also increased by 1,247 in a single 24-hour period.
The unprecedented measure will see around 16 million people essentially quarantined, around a quarter of the country’s population. It shows just how drastic the situation is.
Nightclubs are also shut down. Restaurants, cafes, and diners will be allowed to stay open, but only as long as patrons can sit 1 meter away from each other. It’s not exactly clear what this means for flights to and out of Lombardy.
Elsewhere in the world, Iran is struggling with similar problems. All flights from Iran to Europe have been shut down. Speaking at a televised press conference on Friday, a spokesman for Iran’s health ministry confirmed a rise of 1,234 cases in a single day, stating that the disease seems to spread in all of Iran’s provinces.
Spain and France seem to be in the earlier stages of the outbreak, but there are concerns that the situation could degenerate in a number of days.
In the US, more than 300 cases have been confirmed, but there are concerns that due to the CDC’s failure to deploy testing kits quickly, there are many more undetected cases.
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Andrei's background is in geophysics, and he's been fascinated by it ever since he was a child. Feeling that there is a gap between scientists and the general audience, he started ZME Science -- and the results are what you see today.