- Unprecedented national restrictions imposed on Italy's 60 million people Tuesday
- Fatality rate — with 463 dead and 9,172 infected in Italy — is running at 5% nationwide
- Fatality rate of 6% recorded in Lombardy, far higher than the 3%-4% estimates elsewhere
- Italian doctors celebrate one small victory in their battle against the coronavirus: 38-year-old man moved out of ICU for the first time since he tested positive Feb. 21
Rome: Italy imposed unprecedented national restrictions on its 60 million people Tuesday to control the deadly coronavirus, as China signalled major progress in its own battle against the global epidemic.
Italians have been told to stay at home and avoid all non-essential travel as quarantine measures were extended to the whole country to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
On Monday, the government took broad new measures to restrict Italians' movements nationwide and prevent social gatherings, realizing that limited restrictions weren't containing the spread.
For example, the region surrounding the capital Rome — Lazio — saw its cases jump from 87 to 102 in a day, a sign that the virus was propagating far from the northern concentrations.
Also alarming was Italy's high fatality rate: With 463 dead and 9,172 infected, Italy's fatality rate is running at 5% nationwide and 6% in Lombardy, far higher than the 3%-4% estimates elsewhere.
Dr. Giovanni Rezza, head of infectious disease at the National Institutes of Health, attributed the high rate to the fact that Italy has the world's oldest population after Japan, and the median age of its virus-related dead is 80.
Here are the main points of a government decree signed on Monday night that brings the restrictions into effect until April 3.
Don't travel (unless it's urgent)
From Tuesday, the movements of Italy's population of 60 million are severely limited. Travel is only allowed for "urgent, verifiable work situations and emergencies or health reasons".
People who have tested positive for COVID-19 must not leave their homes for any reason, while anyone with a fever or respiratory symptoms are strongly encouraged to stay at home and limit social contact, including with their doctor.
To avoid work-related travel, public and private companies have been urged to put their staff on leave.
The latest decree prohibits "all forms of gatherings in public places or sites open to the public" - going further than the rules that went into force over the weekend in large parts of northern Italy.
Sporting events of all levels and disciplines were cancelled, stopping play in the top-flight Serie A football league.
High-level professional training for top national sports events and competitions organised by international bodies, such as the Olympic Games, may go ahead without spectators. All athletes, coaches and managers will undergo health checks.
Swimming pools, spas, sports halls and wellness centres must not operate, and ski resorts across the country are shut.
To encourage people to stay in, bars and restaurants are only allowed to open between 6am and 6pm, and only if it is possible to keep a distance of at least a metre between customers.
All museums and cultural venues are closed, as well as nightclubs, cinemas, theatres and casinos, which have been shut since the weekend.
While supermarkets will remain open, large shopping centres and department stores must close on public holidays and the day before public holidays.
Schools and universities are closed, and all exams cancelled.
Religious institutions will stay open, as long as people can stay a metre from one another - but ceremonies such as marriages, baptisms and funerals are banned.
Patient #1 is out of ICU
Italian doctors celebrated one small victory in their battle against the coronavirus after a 38-year-old man was moved out of intensive care for the first time since he tested positive Feb. 21 and opened Italy's health care crisis as Patient No. 1.
But in the rest of hard-hit northern Italy, the virus' spread was growing so exponentially that doctors were making comparisons to war-time triage medics deciding who lives, who dies and who gets access to the limited number of ICU beds.
Mattia first went to the hospital in Codogno on Feb. 18 complaining of flu-like symptoms. He was sent home but came back the next day after his condition worsened dramatically.
He was only tested for coronavirus after doctors learned that in early February he had met with a man who had been to China.
Wife, doctors, nursers infected
By then, however, he had infected his wife and several doctors, nurses and patients at the Codogno hospital, creating what was thought initially to have been Italy's main cluster.
Since his China contact turned out to be negative, though, experts now believe that the virus had been circulating widely and quietly in northern Italy since at least the second half of January.
The epidemic has exposed the impact of drastic cuts to Italy's public health system over the past few years, and prompted calls for the government to authorize hiring of thousands of doctors and nurses.
Nursing students graduate early
In Lombardy, nursing students were allowed to graduate a month early so they could be put to work immediately.
Over the weekend, a nurse named Doris Bia posted on Facebook that after taking a leave for several years to be a full-time mother, she was going back to work at the Oglio Po hospital in hard-hit Cremona.
"Starting tomorrow I'll be beside those who are untiringly fighting this god-forsaken virus,'' she wrote. ``I'm doing it because I can't ignore their sacrifice.''