ROME (Reuters) – Italian Prime Minister pledged “massive shock therapy” to defeat the coronavirus on Monday and urged Europe to act decisively after the markets plummet and his country has wrapped up much of its wealth industrial north.
Police wearing protective masks check people at Milan’s main train station following a government decree that has closed large areas in the north of the country to stem the spread of coronavirus, Milan, Italy, March 9, 2020 REUTERS / Flavio Lo Scalzo
France echoed Giuseppe Conte’s call to action, saying that Europe must offer a “strong, massive and coordinated response” and that the eurozone finance ministers, meeting next week, must decide on a recovery plan to avoid the economic crisis.
Inventories have dropped worldwide as the virus has spread, cutting global supply lines and crippling the industry.
They fell again on Monday as crude oil prices fell 33% after Saudi Arabia launched a price war with Russia, sending investors already worried about the coronavirus fleeing for bond and yen security Japanese.
Stock futures in the United States fell 5% to reach their daily lower limit and stop trading. The London FTSE 100 lost 8.4% just minutes after opening, its worst one-day drop since the financial crisis.
In just over two weeks, the number of cases of coronavirus registered in Italy reached 7,375, with 366 deaths, the second largest number of deaths after China, putting the health system under enormous pressure.
“We will not stop here,” Conte told La Repubblica daily. “We will use massive shock therapy. To get out of this emergency, we will use all human and economic resources. ”
He said that the European Union’s strict borrowing limits should be relaxed to allow more fiscal space and that the flexibility envisaged by EU fiscal rules should be used “in full”.
“Europe cannot think of confronting an extraordinary situation with ordinary measures,” he said.
The virus appeared in China in December but has since spread around the world. Flights were canceled, communities in cities with cruise ships were isolated and concerts, trade fairs and sporting events postponed. Even the Tokyo Summer Olympics are in doubt.
According to a Reuters report, more than 110,000 people were infected in 105 countries and territories and 3,800 died, the vast majority in mainland China.
While the Italian economy is already on the verge of recession, its new brakes, unprecedented in the history of the post-war period in Italy, stop the movements of entry and exit from Lombardy, which is the region the richest and most economically productive and includes Milan, and closes many public spaces.
Bars and restaurants have been ordered to close or restrict entry and maintain a distance of at least one meter between people on their premises. Major sporting events, including high-level Serie A football, will be played without spectators for a month.
France had 1,126 confirmed cases of coronavirus and 19 deaths on Sunday evening. The central bank said the economy would barely grow in the first quarter compared to the previous three months and warned of a potentially severe slowdown.
But China and South Korea, the second most affected country in Asia, have both reported slower new infections.
Mainland China, outside the epicenter of Hubei province, did not report any new cases of locally transmitted coronavirus for the second day on Monday, but a senior Communist Party official warned against the reduction. vigilance.
The Korean Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 165 new cases of coronavirus in South Korea on Monday, bringing the national death toll to 7,478, while the death toll rose from one to 51.
The rate of increase in new infections fell to its lowest level in 11 days, prompting President Moon Jae-in to say that South Korea could quickly enter the “stability phase” if it continued to reduce the number of new cases.
Iran, with 7,161 cases and 237 deaths, the third death toll after China and Italy, has released around 70,000 prisoners due to the coronavirus, justice chief Ebrahim Raisi said on Monday, according to Mizan, the site. justice information.
“The release of the prisoners, to the point where it does not create insecurity in society … will continue,” he said.
Additional report by Leigh Thomas in Paris; Hyonhee Shin and Joyce Lee in Seoul; Babak Dehghanpisheh in Dubai; Written by Nick Macfie, edited by Timothy Heritage