Italy Reports 651 New Virus Fatalities, Toll Nears 5,500: Government

March 22, 2020 Updated: March 22, 2020

A day after reporting nearly 800 deaths in 24 hours, Italian health authorities confirmed Sunday that 651 people have died from the coronavirus.

The head of the country’s Civil Protection agency, in making the grim announcement, said the total number of CCP virus deaths has risen to 5,476.

The Epoch Times refers to the novel coronavirus, which causes the disease COVID-19, as the CCP virus because the Chinese Communist Party’s coverup and mismanagement allowed the virus to spread throughout China and create a global pandemic.

“Today’s numbers are lower than yesterday’s, I hope these numbers can be confirmed. We must not let our guard down, keep the measures taken and also comply” with government mandates, Civil protection chief Angelo Borrelli told state-backed ANSA.

Franco Locatelli, the president of the Superior Health Council, said Italians shouldn’t take the lower death toll as a sign of things to come.

It’s essential to “maintain stringent measures to contain subjects who have tested positive” for the CCP virus, Locatelli added. “Otherwise, we risk perpetuating the mechanism of spreading the virus. It is an appeal to the sense of responsibility of all the relatives of positive patients,” he said, according to ANSA.

Hospital employees wearing a protection mask
Hospital employees wearing a protection mask and gear tend to a patient at a temporary emergency structure set up outside the accident and emergency department at the Brescia hospital, in Lombardy, Italy, on March 13, 2020. (Miguel Medina/AFP via Getty Images)

Italy’s health ministry also said on Sunday that people will be restricted to the municipality where they currently are located and can only leave for “non-deferrable and proven business or health reasons or other urgent matters,” Bloomberg News reported. Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte also announced Saturday that Italy would halt all non-essential business activities, while grocery stores, banks, pharmacies, and other essential businesses can stay open.

“The decision taken by the government is to close down all productive activity throughout the territory that is not strictly necessary, crucial, indispensable, to guarantee us essential goods and services,” he said in a TV address.

The country, which has a population of 60 million, has been on lockdown since March 12 when public gatherings and most stores were closed down.

“We will slow down the country’s productive engine, but we will not stop it,” Conte said on Saturday.

The Italian military was dispatched to Milan to ensure that residents follow the new lockdown requirements.

“[The request to use the army] has been accepted… and 114 soldiers will be on the ground throughout Lombardy… it is still too little, but it is positive,” president of the Lombardy region, Attilio Fontana, told CNN. “Unfortunately we are not seeing a change of trend in the numbers, which are rising.”