Rome: Taking drastic measures to tackle the spread of coronavirus, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte on Wednesday announced the closure of all retail shops, coffee bars, pubs, restaurants and beauty salons. He also called on the private sector to let employees take leave or work from home as much as possible. Also Read - Sporting Events in Italy Suspended Until April 3 Due to Coronavirus Outbreak

These drastic measures are aimed at stemming the spread of the coronavirus epidemic, which has so far infected over 10,000 people and killed over 800 in Italy since it first appeared in the country on February 21. Also Read - Chaos & Confusion As Italy Puts More Than 15 Million People Under Lockdown Over Coronavirus Threat

Meanwhile, only supermarkets, pharmacies, public transportation, post offices, banks, farms, and food production industries, will continue to operate in order to guarantee basic services to the public. Also Read - 34 Confirmed Coronavirus Cases: How Virus Came to India Via Iran, Italy While All Eyes Were on China

“Thank you to all Italians who make sacrifices. We are proving to be a great nation. The time has come to take a further step,” Conte said on Wednesday in a televised message to the nation, adding that “we will only see the effects of this great effort two weeks from now”.

“The country needs the responsibility of each of us, the responsibility of 60 million Italians who make small sacrifices every day for the duration of this emergency,” Conte further said.

On Sunday, more than 15 million people were placed under forced quarantine in northern Italy and ordered to only leave their homes for strictly necessary reasons, such as buying groceries, going to the doctor.

Earlier on Wednesday, the World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic. A pandemic is the ‘worldwide spread of a new disease’ which means that nearly every human being on Earth — close to 8 billion — is now susceptible to coronavirus (Covid-19).