COVID-19 death toll in Italy soars by 627 in one day, govt tightens lockdown

Italy’s death toll from coronavirus has soared by 627 in a day – a new record.

It is the latest grim milestone from the country, which yesterday passed China as the worst-hit by COVID-19.

A concerned Italy’s health ministry on Friday approved new measures to limit people’s movements in an effort to contain Europe’s worst coronavirus outbreak.

From Saturday, parks and public gardens will be shut down and people will be allowed to take exercise only around their homes, a directive seen by Reuters said.

Games and recreational activities in the open air will also be prohibited.

“We must do even more to contain the contagion,” Health Minister Roberto Speranza said in a statement.

The government has now agreed that the military can be used to help enforce the lockdown, the president of the Lombardy region, Attilio Fontana, told a news conference on Friday.

“The request to use the army has been accepted… and 114 soldiers will be on the ground throughout Lombardy… it is still too little, but it is positive,” Fontana said. “Unfortunately we are not seeing a change of trend in the numbers, which are rising.”

The soldiers had until now been deployed in the region to ensure general security in the streets.

More than 4,000 people have now died from the disease in Italy, the country’s civil protection agency said Friday — more than any other nation — and nearly 6,000 new infections were confirmed in the past day, bringing the total to more than 47,000 cases.

France announced that 78 died of coronavirus in the last 24 hours, while Boris Johnson announced the UK would be closing bars, restaurants, cinemas and theatres in a bid to tackle the virus.

The United Arab Emirates announced its first two deaths on Friday, while Tunisia said it would go on lockdown from Sunday.

Earlier, it emerged coronavirus had killed more than 10,000 people worldwide, according to latest data.

A total of 11,129 deaths have been recorded, the majority in Europe (5,976) and Asia (3,432), according to AFP.

Over 258,930 cases have been confirmed in 163 countries since the start of the pandemic.

Spain, the second most-affected country in Europe, became just the fourth country in the world after China, Italy and Iran.

In France, the total death toll from the coronavirus crisis reached 450 on Friday, with 78 new deaths.

Madrid recorded 200 new deaths on Friday, taking the country’s toll beyond 1,000.

Also on Friday, the World Health Organization said Wuhan – the source of the disease – said the province provided hope for the rest of the world.

Thursday was the first day it had not recorded a new case of COVID-19 since the outbreak at the end of last year.

The Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Friday that “a new and tragic milestone” is reached daily in the coronavirus global pandemic, adding: “Every loss of life is a tragedy.”

Ghebreyesus said there are “more than 210,000” reported coronavirus cases and that “more than 9,000 people” have died of the virus.

Speaking at a media briefing, Ghebreyesus also said it was important to celebrate successes, such as the decline of the pandemic in China’s Wuhan, where it started: “Yesterday, Wuhan reported no new cases for the first time since the outbreak started”, he said.

“Wuhan provides hope for the rest of the world, that even the most severe situation can be turned around”, Ghebreyesus added.

The WHO Director-General called for solidarity and warned young people about the dangerous effects the virus can have on their health, despite their youth.

“You are not invincible”, he said, addressing young people around the world. “This virus could put you in hospital for weeks, or even kill you. Even if you don’t get sick, the choices you make about where you go could be the difference between life and death for someone else.” – Agency News..

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