David Sassoli has said he will self-isolate at his home in Brussels after spending the weekend in Italy – Europe’s most infected country. In Italy, there are 9,172 confirmed cases of the Covid-19 virus with 463 deaths. Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has put the whole country on lockdown and ordered 60 million citizens to stay at home in order to contain the outbreak.
Mr Sassoli has said following the increase in the number of cases in Italy the European Parliament has updated its health measures.
In a statement, the EU chief said: “Based on the latest situation in Italy, the European Parliament has updated its measures to protect health, while ensuring the legislative and budgetary work and internal bodies of the Parliament can continue to function.
“This will also ensure that Parliament is able to vote on the next steps of the deal with COVID-19.
“The new advice introduced by the Italian Government extends the protected area to the whole national territory.
“This has important consequences for the behaviour of Italian MEPs.”
Mr Sassoli said the coronavirus “obliges everyone to be responsible and to be cautious” and said he will remain in the Belgian capital for the next fortnight.
He added: “For this reason, I have decided after having been in Italy over the last weekend, as a precaution, to follow the indicated measures and to exercise my function as president from my home in Brussels in compliance with the 14 days indicated by the health protocol.
“Covid-19 obliges everyone to be responsible and to be cautious. It is a delicate moment for all of us.
“Parliament will continue to work to exercise its duties. No virus can block democracy.”
The Italian Prime Minister has called on the people of Italy to work together as strict travel restrictions were extended from the North to the whole country.
Mr Conte reassured the public that supermarkets will remain open and movement outside homes would be allowed for “normal necessities”.
Mr Conte said: “Our habits must be changed, changed now.
“We all have to give up something for the good of Italy.
“When I speak of Italy, I speak of our dear ones, of our grandparents and of our parents.
“We will succeed only if we all collaborate and we adapt right away to these more stringent norms.”
The nationwide restrictions take effect until April 3 and include extending the closures of schools and universities and closing bars and restaurants.
In the UK hundreds of the flights between Britain and Italy have been cancelled due to coronavirus fears.
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This afternoon British Airways suspended all flights to and from Italy.
Health authorities have confirmed a sixth person has died in the UK from the coronavirus.
A man in his 80s with underlying health conditions died at Watford General Hospital on Monday evening.
West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust spokesman said: “Sadly, we can confirm that a man who was being cared for at Watford General Hospital, and had tested positive for COVID-19, has died.
“The patient, who died in the evening of Monday March 9, was in his early 80s and had underlying health conditions.”
The Department for Health has said the number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK now stands at 373.
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