ROME — Italy banned travel within the country on Sunday in yet another attempt to slow the spread of the coronavirus, with data showing a further 651 people had died from the disease, lifting the number of fatalities to 5,476.
Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced late on Saturday he would freeze all non-essential business activity after previous measures failed to peg back the contagion, which emerged a month ago in the wealthy north before slowly advancing southwards.
Full details of Conte’s order have yet to be released, but anticipating the new block, the interior and health ministries said people had to stay where they were, unless urgent business or health reasons forced them to move to another town or region.
Italy has registered more deaths than any other country in the world, while the number of confirmed cases is second only to China, with the tally rising by 5,560 to 59,138 on Sunday, the Civil Protection Agency said.
However, offering a ray of hope, the latest figures represented an improvement on Saturday, when the death toll rose by 793 and new cases increased by 6,557.
“We don’t want to get over enthusiastic or overestimate a trend, but compared to yesterday there is a slight drop in the figures,” said Franco Locatelli, the head of Italy’s top Health Council, which advises the government.
“We must not lower our guard, we must continue with the measures taken and respect the government’s instructions,” he told a news conference.
(Reporting by Crispian Balmer, Giselda Vagnoni and Gavin Jones; Editing by Andrew Heavens)