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 measurements 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 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.
Smoke billows from a rooftop of the Regina Coeli prison in central Rome on Monday.
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.