“We will slow down the country’s productive engine, but we will not stop it”
To halt the coronavirus epidemic that claimed another 793 lives in Italy, the country has shut all non-essential factories as a drastic measure to contain it.
Italy's Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte warned the nation in a dramatic late-night television address on Saturday, reports The Guardian.
Conte said the country was facing its gravest crisis since the Second World War and said all non-essential businesses must close until 3 April.
"The decision taken by the government is to close down all productive activity throughout the territory that is not strictly necessary, crucial, indispensable, to guarantee us essential goods and services," Conte said.
Groceries and pharmacies would remain open and although he did not specify and what "indispensable" companies were, he was expected to release a decree on Sunday explaining his plans.
"We will slow down the country's productive engine, but we will not stop it."
Russia's military will start sending medical help to Italy from Sunday in order to help it battle the coronavirus, Moscow's defence ministry said in a statement.
The Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke to Conte on Saturday, the Kremlin said, saying the Russian leader had offered his support and help in the form of mobile disinfection vehicles and specialists to help the worst hit Italian regions.
Italy now accounts for more than a third of the world's total of around 13,000 deaths.
The Mediterranean country has the second-highest number of cases with 53,578 out of the global total of more than 307,000.
Italian health officials looked stony-faced as they read out the latest bad news in a daily update. National health institute (ISS) chief Silvio Brusaferro urged the elderly to stay indoors at all times.
Average age of Italy's victims was 78.5.
"If you do not follow all the (government) measures, you make everything more difficult. If you do, we can make this outbreak slow down," Italy's top medical expert said.
Italian government appears intent on making more or less everyone stay indoors as much as possible at any cost. Police squads in Rome were checking documents and fining those outside without a valid excuse.
Those who were out shopping were forced to wait in line at the entrance to make sure the store was filled with only a handful of people at a time. Joggers were asked to limit their runs to laps around the block.
People out for a walk were fined if they broke the rules and wandered into a park or stopped to take pictures of historic scenes of a city without any people.
Giuseppe Conte's government is betting that this approach will work but Italy is setting some unenviable records, with Saturday's jump in infections of 6,557 just the latest one and beating the one set the day before.
First weeks of the crisis in Italy were marked by periodic record death tolls that would come twice or three times a week. The country has been setting them every day since Wednesday and the jumps are getting exponentially bigger.