Italy closing all shops across entire country to battle coronavirus outbreak

Italy will now close all shops except pharmacies and food outlets in the country's war against coronavirus .

Giuseppe Conte, the nation's Prime Minister, also said bars and hairdressers will shut after the death toll rose by 196 to 827 today.

Company departments which are not essential for production will no longer operate in Europes worst-affected country for the foreseeable future.

There are more than 12,000 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Italy, a figure rising every day.

Many airlines, including British Airways, still won't fly to Italy from the UK as a result.

"The right decision today is to stay at home. Our future and the future of Italy is in our hands. These hands have to be more responsible today than ever before," Conte said.


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Italy's 60 million people will now only be able to travel for work, medical reasons or emergencies.

All schools and universities, which were closed nationwide last week until March 15, will now not reopen before next month.

The contagion only came to light near Italy's financial capital Milan on February 21. Since then, there have been some 9,172 confirmed cases and 463 deaths, putting the national health system under massive strain.


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Conte said all outdoor public gatherings would be forbidden and announced that all sports events, including top flight Serie A soccer matches, would be suspended, throwing the closely watched championship into disarray.

The politician added: "We don't have any time. The numbers are showing that there has been a significant growth in infections, people in intensive care and deaths," he said in a sombre address.

"Our habits have to change right now. We must give things up for Italy."

Coronavirus has now become a global pandemic, World Health Organisation (WHO) says.

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a media briefing today: “In the past two weeks, the number of cases of COVID19 outside China has increased 13-fold and the number of affected countries has tripled. There are now more than 118,000 cases in 114 countries, and 4,291 people have lost their lives.

“Thousands more are fighting for their lives in hospitals. In the days and weeks ahead, we expect to see the number of COVID19 cases, the number of deaths, and the number of affected countries climb even higher.

“WHO has been assessing this outbreak around the clock and we are deeply concerned both by the alarming levels of spread and severity, and by the alarming levels of inaction.

“We have therefore made the assessment that COVID19 can be characterized as a pandemic.”

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