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Coronavirus in Italy – the Podcast

As radical measures are introduced in Italy in an attempt to contain the coronavirus, with a quarter of Italy’s population – up to 16 million people – in quarantine, we consider day-to-day life in Italy and here in Puglia, currently outside the quarantine zone. Listen to our latest podcast episode here or get it from your usual podcast provider.

"It's really important to be responsible in this moment"

As Italy struggles to contain the spread of covid-19 the whole of Lombardy, including its financial capital of Milan, and 14 provinces across the worst-affected northern regions, have been shut down until 3 April.

In the last 24 hours deaths rose from 233 to 366, a rise of more than 50%, with the total number of cases now at 7,375.

New measures applying outside the quarantine zone

Across Puglia municipalities are now putting measures in place to try and curb the spread of the disease. Here in the province of Brindisi (which includes Ostuni, Ceglie Messapica and Cisternino) the museums and other cultural institutes and monuments are closed.

Civil and religious ceremonies, including weddings and funerals are suspended.

Local Police will ensure that in the market areas, the requirement to avoid gatherings and to respect the interpersonal distance of one meter is respected.

The great escape

Fears mount over the spread of the virus to the south as thousands crowded train stations or took to the roads after the details of the draft quarantine decree banning people from leaving or entering the red zones were leaked late on Saturday.

“What happened with the news leak has caused many people to try to escape, causing the opposite effect of what the decree is trying to achieve,” acknowledged Roberto Burioni, professor of microbiology and virology at the University in Milan. “Unfortunately some of those who fled will be infected with the disease.”

Michele Emiliano, the president of Puglia, signed an order on Sunday obliging all those arriving from the north to go into quarantine.

“Get off at the first train station, don’t take planes to Bari and Brindisi, go back by car, get off the bus at the next stop,” he wrote addressing people from the region who live in the north.

“Do not bring the Lombardy, Veneto and Emilia epidemic to your Puglia. You are carrying the virus into the lungs of your brothers and sisters, your grandparents, uncles, cousins and parents.”

At train stations yesterday messages were playing on loop. If you have arrived from the north you must register with your doctor. If you have arrived from the “red zone” you must register with the police.

On social media people are urging others to "turn in" any family coming into Puglia from the quarantine zone.

"Report them to the police for the sake of stopping the Lombardy, Veneto and Emilia epidemic spreading here in Puglia."

Yesterday police officers and medics wearing masks and hazmat suits waited at Bari and Lecce train stations for passengers who had boarded overnight trains from Lombardy.

Britons urged not to visit Italy quarantine areas

There was earlier confusion as the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) published three different versions of advice to British travellers for Italy in the past 24 hours.

But following the isolation measures imposed by the Italian authorities yesterday, the FCO is now advising against "all but essential travel" to the entire Lombardy region, as well as the provinces of Modena, Parma, Piacenza, Reggio Emilia and Rimini, Pesaro and Urbino, Alessandria, Asti, Novara, Verbano-Cusio-Ossola and Vercelli, Padua, Treviso and Venice.

Graphic by BBC (

Alitalia has suspended all national and international flights from Milan’s Malpensa airport and will operate only a reduced service for domestic flights from the city’s Linate airport. British Airways are currently keeping the matter under review.

easyJet have cancelled flights in and out of the region and to central Italy following the lockdown and will review its other services. Ryanair and British Airways have said they are not currently grounding flights but will jeep the matter "under review".

Passengers departing on flights from the quarantine zone, except temporary visitors, will have to justify why they should leave, likewise those arriving.



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