A heartwarming video has emerged of a U.S. Navy ship playing the Italian national anthem in an act of solidarity with the European country hardest hit by the coronavirus.
The display from the USS Mount Whitney, stationed in the waters off the port city of Gaeta, comes as Italy is grappling with nearly 25,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19, which as of Monday morning have resulted in more than 1,800 deaths, according to statistics from Johns Hopkins University.
“THIS is what friendship and support looks like,” the U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa/U.S. 6th Fleet posted on Twitter. “Viva l'Italia.”
Across Europe, an increasing number of countries have been shutting down borders, restaurants and public gatherings in hopes of limiting the spread of the coronavirus. The World Health Organization has called the continent the new epicenter of the sickness, as seven of the 10 countries outside of China with the most cases are located there.
This morning, Germany rolled out new measures to partially close its borders with France, Switzerland, Austria, Luxembourg and Denmark.
Interior Minister Horst Seehofer announced that people who commute across the border to work will still be able to cross, as will goods, but those without a valid reason to travel will no longer be allowed to enter and leave Germany. He added that German citizens in the neighboring countries will be allowed back in.
The government of France, meanwhile, is putting together a partial lockdown order that is set to go into effect at midnight Tuesday, Reuters reported, citing a source familiar with the matter. Its exact details were not immediately available, but French President Emmanuel Macron – who huddled Monday with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and other top European Union officials to discuss coronavirus and border controls – is set to make a televised address to the nation later Monday evening.
Elsewhere, European Union leaders are gearing up to hold a videoconference summit on efforts to contain the spread of coronavirus.
EU Council President Charles Michel, who chairs summits of prime ministers and presidents from the 27 EU nations, said via Twitter on Monday that he was calling on Tuesday what will be the second meeting of its kind in two weeks.
“Containing the spread of the virus, providing sufficient medical equipment, boosting research and limiting the economic fallout is key,” Michel tweeted.
The EU is urging its member countries to put common health screening procedures in place at their borders to limit the spread of the virus, the Associated Press says, but not to block the transport of important medical equipment.
In Hungary, Prime Minister Viktor Orban announced Monday in Parliament that international coordination about border closures is underway.
Orban said the country is closing its borders to foreigners and only citizens will be allowed in, while all bars, restaurants and shops will have to close daily at 3 p.m., with only food stores, pharmacies and drug stores allowed to stay open longer.
Denmark shut its own border over the weekend – as did two eastern neighbors of Germany, Poland and the Czech Republic.
Kosovo, which has 13 COVID-19 cases, has closed all its borders and suspended flights from its only international airport. The government has closed all schools, cafes, restaurants, and gyms and banned mass gatherings.
Turkey also is closing bars and nightclubs to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. And in the Czech Republic, which has 298 COVID-19 cases, the government has banned traveling across the country, starting Monday.
Greece is imposing a compulsory 14-day quarantine on anyone entering the country and extending shop closures to fight the spread of the coronavirus.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.