Italy Calls in Military to Enforce Lockdown as Coronavirus Death Toll Skyrockets

Italian soldiers patrol as the Duomo gothic cathedral is visible in background, in Milan, Friday, March 20, 2020. Mayors of many towns in Italy are asking for ever more stringent measures on citizens' movements to help contain the surging infections of the coronavirus. For most people, the new coronavirus causes …
AP Photo/Luca Bruno

Italy is calling in its military to help enforce the lockdown in the nation’s heavily coronavirus-stricken northern region of Lombardy, as people have been ignoring the government’s quarantine rules while the country’s death toll and confirmed cases of the virus continue to surge.

The Italian government has decided to use its military for enforcing the nation’s coronavirus lockdown, according to Attilio Fontana, the governor of Italy’s Lombardy region, who spoke during a press conference on Friday, reports La Repubblica.

Lombardy is the worst-infected region in all of Italy, as well as the epicenter of Europe’s coronavirus crisis.

Fontana said during the press conference that he had spoken with Italian president Sergio Mattarella regarding the usage of the military to help enforce the lockdown, and that the president agreed.

“I repeated to President Mattarella the need to use the Army to support the police in order to [enforce] compliance with the rules,” said the Lombardy governor. “I can say that President Mattarella shared my request for the good and protection of the health of the community.”

Earlier this week, Fontana warned citizens that the government would get more aggressive if people do not heed its request to stay home.

The governor added that due to the increasing numbers of coronavirus victims, which show no signs of slowing down, hospitals “will no longer be able to help those who get sick” with the virus that originated in Wuhan, China.

“Friends, I am saying this in a polite way, but in a while, we will have to change our tone because if you don’t understand this with good tones, then we have to be a little more aggressive in making it understood,” said Fontana.

But some might argue that it’s too late, like the mayor of Bergamo — a city in Lombardy — who says that the nation’s coronavirus crisis has already led to the rationing of health services in Italian hospitals, as well as patients who have been “left to die” by healthcare workers so overwhelmed, that they’ve been forced to prioritize younger, healthier patients who are more likely to survive the Wuhan virus.

As of Friday, more than 4,000 people have now died from the virus in Italy, according to Italy’s Civil Protection, which added that an additional 627 people have died from the disease in just the last 24 hours alone — making Italy hit its highest daily coronavirus death toll yet.

Now, 114 soldiers will be deployed in Lombardy with the direct purpose of enforcing the government’s lockdown orders to stop the continuing spread of the coronavirus in the region.

Until recently, the soldiers had been tasked with maintaining general order and security in the streets.

You can follow Alana Mastrangelo on Twitter at @ARmastrangelo, and on Instagram.

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