Despite stricter measures enforced by the government, the death toll from the novel coronavirus outbreak in Italy continues to rise, reaching 1,016 on Thursday -- a jump of 23% over a period of 24 hours.
According to the latest figures provided by the Italian Civil Protection Department, the total number of cases in the country has risen to 12,839, the highest anywhere in the world after China, where the virus emerged last December.
On Wednesday, the Italian government warned citizens that new containment measures -- including a stricter lockdown of shops, bars, and other commercial activities -- will take at least a couple of weeks to slow down the spread of the virus.
Fears over the COVID-19 outbreak are also taking a toll Italy’s financial markets as its main index, FTSE MIB, closed almost 17% down on Thursday, its worst loss on record.
Italy’s stigma as the hotbed of the virus in Europe is also having a major impact on airport traffic.
Operational activities at the two airports in Rome -- Fiumicino and Ciampino -- were reduced on Thursday, following a high number of cancellations due to the coronavirus outbreak.
The company that handles both airports announced that starting March 17, Fiumicino will close its Terminal 1, while all check-in and luggage claim operations will be handled at Terminal 3.
The Ciampino airport, which is mainly used by low cost companies, will completely shut down its passenger terminals from March 14.
Despite Italy’s strict travel restrictions to contain the spread of the virus, flights in and out of main Italian airports have seen a steep decline and check-in areas have been almost deserted in recent days.
The situation has been further complicated by U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to impose travel restrictions related to Europe.
Since originating in Wuhan, China, last December, the coronavirus has now spread to more than 110 countries.
The global death toll has surpassed 4,600, with more than 125,000 confirmed cases, according to the World Health Organization, which has declared the outbreak a pandemic.