fb-pixel Skip to main content

ROME — Italy on Tuesday was a country in quiet emergency: little chatter, few hugs, few cars, no sports, empty piazzas, vacated restaurants, and a deepening sense that a prolonged period of social isolation was the only way to slow the coronavirus.

Infections in Italy topped the 10,000 mark with 10,149 cases — more than anywhere else but China — and the number of deaths from the virus rose to 631, from 463 a day earlier, Italian Civil Protection authorities said. There were fewer new cases reported than in previous days, but the new figures show the largest single daily jump in deaths.

Advertisement



The government’s historic ordering of a nationwide lockdown — limiting the movement of 60 million people — has transformed Italy into a testing ground for not only what it might take to control the virus, but how much a democracy is willing to upend life’s most basic routines and joys.

In Rome on Tuesday, the city was moving at a crawl. People tele-commuted or didn’t work at all; they wore masks or wrapped scarves around their mouths; they kept a suspicious distance from others. They tried to drop the habits that seemed suddenly dangerous — the kiss greeting; the chat at the cafe counter — even as depression and deep financial pain seemed like unavoidable side-effects of the lockdown.

‘‘I’m mostly sealed indoors,’’ said Ivano Canni, 49, a newsstand owner, describing his sense, building for many other Italians as well, that any social contact carries a risk. ‘‘I’m trying to stand two meters apart from others. I open my door to let fresh air in for half an hour or so, then close it back.’’

Italy’s initial response to the coronavirus outbreak had been to try to preserve normalcy and limit the economic sacrifices. But as active cases have accelerated, the approach has changed dramatically, leading to restrictions on movement unprecedented by a democracy.

Advertisement



On the first day of the nationwide lockdown, Italians appeared to be largely heeding orders, following the pleas of Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, who said Italy’s health system was at risk of being overwhelmed if people continued to move freely and spread the virus.

Italy’s strategy against the virus has moved quickly only because the disease has grown exponentially. Sixteen days ago, it had some 100 total cases. Ten days ago it had 1,000. On Tuesday, it had more than 8,500 active cases; another 1,000 people had recovered, and 631 had died. The country, with the world’s second-highest proportion of seniors, is particularly vulnerable to a disease that has proven deadliest for the elderly. Most who have died from the coronavirus were in their 70s or older.

Washington Post

In Iran, health system wages war against the virus

TEHRAN — Iran will recognize doctors and nurses who die combating the new coronavirus as “martyrs” like slain soldiers, the country’s supreme leader announced Tuesday as the outbreak killed 54 more people and pushed the nation’s death toll to 291.

The decision by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei comes amid a propaganda campaign already trying to link the fight against the virus to Iran’s long, bloody 1980s war with Iraq. The rising casualty figures each day in Iran suggest the fight against the new coronavirus is far from over, even as more people die from drinking methanol in the false belief it kills the virus.

Advertisement



Across the Mideast, over 8,600 people have contracted the virus and the Covid-19 illness it causes. The majority come from hard-hit Iran, which has one of the world’s worst death tolls outside of China.

On Tuesday, Iranian Health Ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour offered new casualty figures for the virus, which represented an 18 percent increase in deaths from the day before and 12 percent more confirmed cases.

Associated Press

Island vacationers allowed to leave quarantine

CANARY ISLANDS, Spain — Two hundred guests who had been detained under quarantine for two weeks in a hotel on Spain’s Canary Islands have been allowed to leave.

On Tuesday they completed the 14-day quarantine ordered by authorities after an Italian guest tested positive for the coronavirus on Feb 24.

Authorities for the Canary Islands say that seven guests were eventually found to be infected, six Italians and one British citizen. Four of them remain in the hospital but without symptoms. The other three have been released.

Health authorities applied the quarantine to over 600 guests staying at the H10 Costa Adeje Palace on the island of Tenerife. After passing medical screenings, small groups had been allowed to depart before the final guests left on Tuesday.

Associated Press

Sporting events take a hit in the European Union

MADRID — All upcoming professional soccer games in Spain, France, and Portugal, as well as some in Germany and a European Championship qualifying match in Slovakia, will be played in empty stadiums because of the coronavirus outbreak.

The Spanish league said Tuesday that matches in the first and second divisions will be played without fans for at least two weeks. The announcement came after the government outlined a series of preventative measures being implemented to help contain the spread of the virus, including ordering all sporting events with a significant number of fans to be played in empty venues.

Advertisement



Portugal announced similar measures for the professional league and said youth soccer competitions would be suspended between Saturday and March 28. It also said non-professional soccer matches can’t be played with crowds bigger than 5,000 people.

Later Tuesday, the French soccer league announced that all soccer matches in its top two divisions will be played without fans until April 15.

The moves came a day after Italy said all sports events in the country, including Serie A soccer games and preparatory events for the Tokyo Olympics, would be suspended until April 3.

Associated Press