As the coronavirus death toll and number of cases skyrocket in each and every country, things look grimmer with each passing day. Of all the European countries, Italy has been hit hardest by the coronavirus—so hard that northern regions entered a lockdown as part of “massive shock therapy.”
According to Business Insider, “Italy…shut down its Northern Lombardy region, which includes Milan, and 14 nearby provinces, a lockdown that is due to last until at least April 3,” beginning March 8. The crisis began in Italy at the end of February when it was confirmed to be present in Rome, but the number of cases since then multiplied exponentially, even over the course of mere days. Sky News reported there were 5,883 confirmed cases nationwide March 7, but this number spiked up all the way to 7,375 by March 8, a 25% increase. The 15 regions of Italy that are shut down are referred to as the “containment regions,” and anyone leaving them “risks three months in prison, or a fine of up to 206 euros ($234)”, as per a quote from Luciana Lamorgese referenced in a CNN article by Emma Reynolds. Business Insider reported that “schools, museums, and theaters are closed, events like weddings and funerals are suspended, and bars and restaurants must keep customers a minimum distance apart.” Travelers will be checked for the virus as well, and many flights to and from Italy have been suspended. The only circumstances in which individuals can enter or exit the containment regions are in instances of emergency.
Over 16 million Italians are affected by this lockdown. Giuseppe Conte, the prime minister of Italy, plans to “increase spending on coronavirus measures” to initiate his “massive shock therapy” plan, which he believes will combat the illness and offset its impact. His plan was leaked in an Italian newspaper called Corriere della Sera, which caused panic to arise. As a result, many Italians from the north fled to the south; however, there is the possibility that they might cause the illness to spread to the south, making this fleeing a bit of a risky move. Puglia, one region in southern Italy, will quarantine all visitors from the north in order to prevent the virus from spreading to the south.
According to Business Insider, these “measures are the most drastic outside China, which locked down Wuhan, the city of 11 million people where the virus is thought to have originated, and had put more than 780 million people under some sort of travel restrictions,” citing a news report from CNN Italy. Because of how drastic the measures Italy took are, many people from outside the containment regions have left the country.