The death toll from the coronavirus in Italy spiked to more than 1,000 people Thursday evening despite the country deepening its nationwide lockdown earlier in the day, closing all bars, restaurants and most shops amid the sweeping outbreak.
Italian Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio told the BBC that at least 1,016 people died after being infected with COVID-19.
Thursday morning, as Italy entered its third day of the nationwide lockdown aimed at curtailing the spread of infection, the death toll stood at least 827 – a 30 percent increase from the day before, according to CNBC, marking the largest overnight spike in deaths since the outbreak began.
Di Maio added that at least 15,113 people were infected. The number of cases was up from at least 12,462 recorded earlier that morning, which had already marked a 22.7 percent spike from the 10,149 cases Wednesday.
"Italy was the first nation in Europe to be affected so badly," Di Maio told the BBC. "But I hope it also means that Italy is the first one to leave the emergency behind."
"Our grandfathers were drafted to go to war; we're being asked to stay at home," he continued. "If a doctor and a nurse can work for 24 hours non-stop, we can give up leaving our own home. The huge majority of citizens are respecting the rules.
"Those who aren't will face sanctions: either fines or criminal charges," he said. Civil protection officials said 1,258 people infected with the virus have recovered, according to the BBC.
Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced Thursday morning that all bars, restaurants, hairdressers and non-essential company departments would be shut down, the BBC reported. But grocery stores and pharmacies would remain open.
Conte implemented a nationwide lockdown from Tuesday until April 3 on the entire 60 million population, extending initial measures in the northern Lombardy region, where Milan is located, and 14 other provinces, made over the weekend to include the entire country.
Before Thursday, all of Italy had already shut down schools, gyms, museums and nightclubs. Masses were cancelled. Italians needed special approval from the police to travel by air, train and even car. Prisoners at least two dozen lockups in the north rioted when family visits were suspended to prevent the transmission of the virus. Doctors, nurses and other medical workers in Italy were forced to cancel any planned leave amid the outbreak.
This comes the same day President Trump announced a 30-day travel ban, cancelling all flights from continental Europe – a move that prompted a swift rebuke from EU leaders, who said the decision was made “unilaterally and without consultation.”
“The worldwide coronavirus outbreak, which was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization Wednesday, is a “global crisis, not limited to any continent and it requires cooperation," EU Council President Charles Michel and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said in a joint statement Thursday.
The travel ban did not apply to the United Kingdom. U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Thursday gave a stark assessment of the coronavirus pandemic, calling it the “worst public health crisis for a generation” and telling British families that many are going to lose loved ones because of the virus.
Ireland closed all schools, colleges, childcare facilities and cultural institutions, in addition to banning indoor gatherings of more than 100 people and outdoor ones with more than 500. Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar announced the new measures Thursday from a press conference in Washington D.C., the Irish Times reported. The St. Patrick's Day Parade in Dublin, a large tourist attraction on March 17, had already been canceled.
In continental Europe, where the U.S. travel ban applies, France and Spain both saw a notable spike in cases Thursday morning. France recorded at least 2,269 cases, up 27.9 percent from the 1,774 cases Wednesday. Spain recorded at least 2,140 cases, a 30 percent increase from its 1,630 cases Wednesday.