Coronavirus: Italy in ‘massive shock therapy’ pledge to offset virus impact

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Italy’s government has pledged to further increase spending in a “massive shock therapy” to offset the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak.

The country is struggling to adapt to the most restrictive measures since World War Two, introduced on Sunday.

Up to 16 million people in northern Italy now need permission to travel under quarantine rules.

With 366 deaths now confirmed, Italy is the worst-hit country in the world after China.

In a separate development, six people died in a prison riot in the city of Modena, following protests at the new restrictions, local media report. There were also riots at several other prisons in northern Italy.

A man is restrained by a police officer outside a prison in Modena, Italy. Photo: 9 March 2020
Image captionOn Monday, there were scuffles outside a prison in Modena, one of the areas in quarantine

In Modena, officials say prisoners set fire to a cell block after they were told that visits would be suspended. It is thought that at least two of the dead lost their lives to drug overdoses after they raided the prison hospital for the heroin substitute methadone.

Cases of the virus have been confirmed in all 20 Italian regions, with the total number of infections now at 6,387.

The coronavirus causes the Covid-19 disease. In severe cases, patients have pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, and multiple organ failure that can lead to death.

How is the government responding?

On Monday, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said the government would pump in more money to mitigate the impact of the outbreak.

He also said Italy would overcome the virus if people followed the rules, adding that the sacrifices required were for the good of all.

Italy is also seeking measures at EU level.

On Monday morning, the main share index in Milan, the industrial powerhouse at the heart of the worst-affected area, opened down more than 8%.

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