2nd regional Italian head contracts coronavirus, all cultural facilities across the country CLOSED

Sunday, March 8, 2020
By Paul Martin

8 Mar, 2020

Gripped by the deadly coronavirus, which has infected thousands nationwide – a figure which now includes the head of its Piedmont region – Italy has shut down all of its cultural sites and iconic landmarks such as the Colosseum.

Those hoping to marvel at glorious reminders of the Roman Empire by visiting the Colosseum or walking among the ancient ruins of the Forum in central Rome won’t be fulfilling their dreams any time soon. Those seeking to enjoy the masterpieces of the great Renaissance masters in Florence’s Uffizi Gallery will have to shelve their plans for the time being, too.

In their latest move to curb the relentless spread of the novel coronavirus officially known as Covid-19, Italian authorities have decided to close all national cultural facilities, including the iconic landmarks that have made the nation famous throughout the world. The measure also spells bad news for local cinemagoers and theater-lovers, since these venues will now be closed too, according to Cultural Minister Dario Franceschini.

The official called it a “necessary and tough choice” as he announced the decision in a Twitter post. He also urged the national TV channels to fill the void left by the abrupt – if temporary – ban on cultural life by broadcasting films, plays and music. All companies managing cultural sites should “make the most” of their websites and social network accounts, the minister suggested.

Rome, however, might have good reasons for such a drastic move. By early Sunday, the coronavirus had infected more than 5,800 people in Italy, making it the fourth most severely affected country after the virus’ ‘birthplace’ of China, along with South Korea and Iran. The national death toll in Italy, meanwhile, has risen to 233.

One of those recently infected is the head of the north-western Piedmont region, Alberto Cirio, who tested positive for the coronavirus according to state broadcaster RAI. Cirio, who heads the fourth worst-hit region in Italy centered around the city of Turin, fell ill less than a day after the head of the central Lazio region and leader of Italy’s co-ruling Democratic Party, Nicola Zingaretti, contracted the virus.

The unpromising statistics had already prompted a degree of radical response in Italy, with Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte signing an emergency decree virtually putting the northern Lombardy region and 14 other provinces on lockdown until April 3. An estimated 16 million people have found themselves inside these de-facto quarantine zones.

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