Coronavirus forces Italy to tighten lockdown
Now officially a global pandemic, the coronavirus outbreak is forcing Italy to tighten its nationwide lockdown by shutting bars, hairdressers and restaurants as other countries closed schools and canceled sports events and other big gatherings, Trend reports citing Reuters.
The virus sent the Dow .DJI into a bear market for the first time since the 2008 financial crisis as the massive financial stimulus promised by governments around the globe failed to reassure investors.
The United States has yet to enact any large-scale containment measures as cases topped 1,000 as testing became more available, including the nation’s first drive-through testing in Denver — a measure that proved key to containment in South Korea.
“Bottom line, it’s going to get worse,” Anthony Fauci, head of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told Congress.
Wall Street stocks plunged almost 5% on Wednesday, and already skittish investors awaiting details on U.S. measures were unnerved by news that the White House ordered federal health officials to treat dozens of virus-related meetings as classified. [.N] [MKTS/GLOB]
President Donald Trump, who has downplayed the risks from coronavirus, will address the nation from the Oval Office at 9 p.m. EDT (0100 GMT).
Meanwhile in Europe, Denmark shut all schools and universities after a 10-fold rise in cases since Monday, and strain is mounting on Italy’s healthcare system despite all efforts to contain the outbreak.
The new restrictions in Italy, the most severe controls placed on a Western nation since World War Two, came after confirmed cases rose to 12,462 on Wednesday, from a previous 10,149, with the death toll jumping by 196 in 24 hours to 827.
The country’s 60 million people are under lockdown. “We will only be able to see the effects of this great effort in a couple of weeks,” Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said up to 70% of the population was likely to be infected as the virus spreads around the world in the absence of a cure.
With Europe the new epicenter of the outbreak, the Trump administration is likely to discourage Americans from taking trips to Europe as soon as Wednesday, sources said.
There are now more than 121,000 infections in 118 countries and over 4,300 people have died of the virus, according to a Reuters tally.
While China brought its outbreak under control and normalcy is returning, the number of cases outside China rose 13-fold in the past two weeks, and the number of countries affected tripled, with Iran and Italy the worst-hit countries in the Middle East and Europe.
“Italy and Iran are in the frontline and are suffering but other countries will be in that situation very soon,” said WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
The World Health Organization described the coronavirus outbreak as a pandemic for the first time on Wednesday but use of the word pandemic does not change the agency’s response, said Dr. Mike Ryan, the head of the Geneva-based agency’s emergencies program.
He also said there was “a strong element of controllability” and “a real chance to blunt the curve... and reduce the number of cases”.