05:33 GMT25 January 2021
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    The total number of cases of novel coronavirus infection (COVID-2019) in Italy has increased by 2,000 in the past 24 hours, exceeding 12,400, while the number of the dead increased by 196 to 827, according to the National Civil Protection Agency.

    Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte late on Wednesday ordered an increase in efforts to tackle the spread of the deadly outbreak. Conte announced new measures in addition to those imposed earlier, including a restriction on free movement across the nation.

    The new decree calls for the closure of all shops across the nation, excepting pharmacies and food stores. The order also stipulates the closure of clubs, bars, restaurants, hairdressers and eateries that cannot otherwise guarantee a safe distance of at least one meter between customers and visitors.

    According to Conte, authorities must now suspend the work of all businesses not essential for production and the economy. Conte on Wednesday promised that he would not tighten measures further, even if the number of new coronavirus cases continues to rise.

    Conte said that the effect of "this great effort" would only become visible over the next couple of weeks.

    Earlier in the day, Conte announced that Italy would allocate an additional 25 billion euros ($28 billion) to fight the coronavirus disease. Conte also stated that the Italian government was ready to review a request by the authorities of the country's northern regions, including virus-hit Lombardy, to tighten quarantine measures amid the outbreak.

    Italian Industry Minister Stefano Patuanelli vowed that the government was preparing a package of economic measures to support families and businesses amid the coronavirus crisis. The package would temporarily suspend payments of utility bills, taxes and mortgages, according to the minister.

    On a global scale, there are currently over 122,000 confirmed cases, with nearly 81,000 in mainland China alone. The total number of global deaths reached 4,550 as of Wednesday, and over 66,000 recoveries have been reported.

    World Health Organization (WHO) chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has now named the coronavirus a pandemic.


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