With a death toll that is continuing to climb, Italy has quickly become the country hardest-hit by the coronavirus disease outside of China, according to The Hill.
NBC News reported that at least 196 people died from COVID-19 in Italy within a 24-hour period on Tuesday and Wednesday. Those new fatalities made for a grim total of 897 deaths nationwide.
According to NBC, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte is responding to the news by allocating 25 billion euros to protecting the nation’s “fragile” economy. That represents a massive increase over numbers Conte gave last week, when he estimated that just 7.5 billion euros would be sufficient, NBC noted.
A country on lock-down
Large areas of Italy have been put under quarantine amid news of the coronavirus’ unstoppable spread, with isolation being enforced by police officers and military personnel, according to Fox News. The country has also canceled all unnecessary group gatherings, including church services in some cases.
“The season of Lent helps us to live this great trial evangelically,” Cardinal Angelo De Donatis, vicar general of Rome, said of the cancellation of communal services, according to Fox.
He went on: “In addition to fasting…we want to be close, with a sign of almsgiving by collecting offerings that we will donate in support of the health personnel who are spending generously and sacrifice in the care of the sick.”
Rumors flew earlier this month alleging that Pope Francis himself had contracted the coronavirus disease, but the Vatican has since said the pope tested negative for COVID-19 and merely had a cold, Fox reports.
“The cold with which the Holy Father was diagnosed is running its due course,” Vatican spokesperson Matteo Bruni announced, according to the New York Post. “He continues to celebrate Holy Mass daily and follow the Spiritual Exercises, as we have reported in recent days.”
A full-blown pandemic
After weeks of delay, World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus finally confirmed that the coronavirus had reached the status of a full-blown pandemic earlier this week.
“In the days and weeks ahead, we expect to see the number of Covid-19 cases, the number of deaths, and the number of affected countries climb even higher,” Ghebreyesus said on Wednesday, according to The Hill.
In the meantime, U.S. President Donald Trump has sought to assure Americans that keeping them safe is his top priority.
The Media should view this as a time of unity and strength. We have a common enemy, actually, an enemy of the World, the CoronaVirus. We must beat it as quickly and safely as possible. There is nothing more important to me than the life & safety of the United States!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 11, 2020