Italian PM Giuseppe Conte breaks down in tears on national TV in coronavirus interview

The Italian Prime Minister appeared on national television on Thursday on the Accordi&Disaccordi programme to take questions on the coronavirus outbreak crippling the country. Asked by one of the reporters on the show whether he ever felt like Italy would not make it through the deadly virus outbreak, Giuseppe Conte said: “Let’s say that one of the most significant moments was when we had to establish a red zone for the first time in the Lodi area.

“10 towns, 45,000 residents locked in with police officers at every exit. They found themselves isolated in the space of a night and could no longer move.

“At the same time, when we locked down the town of Vo Eugene, Veneto, something that had never happened since World War 2.

“I am a lawyer, for someone like me who has fed on democratic and constitutional principles for years, to order such a stringent measure for 50,000 people and to think about sending police vans to check every gate, it has been a very difficult thing to do.

“We took the decision in a few hours at a Cabinet meeting, after just 40 hours from finding out about the outbreak in those two areas.

“That Cabinet meeting with the Civil Protection lasted four hours. I obviously invited all the ministers and we considered all the options, all the pros and the cons.

“That was very dramatic.”

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The Italian Prime Minister then turned visibly emotional and broke into tears as he added: “And then when I started seeing the list of deaths. When I had to confront myself with the first deaths, we put our fingers on a wound that we realised was only bound to deepen more and more as we got on.”

Global cases of the new coronavirus have shot past 1 million with more than 53,000 fatalities, a Reuters tally showed on Friday, as death tolls kept soaring in the United States and western Europe while the world economy spiralled disastrously.

Just in the previous day, there were 6,095 new deaths – nearly double all fatalities in China, where the COVID-19 disease originated.

In a list based on officially-reported data, Italy leads with 13,915 deaths, followed by Spain with 10,935 deaths. But the United States was becoming the new epicentre, with 243,635 cases – by far the most of any nation – and 5,887 deaths.

Outside the West, China’s epidemic has stabilised after draconian containment measures and it was planning to mourn its “martyrs” on Saturday with a three-minute silence.


The outbreak in badly-hit Iran still raged while it sparred with traditional foe the United States on the geopolitical stage.

With Europe accounting for more than half of cases around the world, France and Britain were also struggling to prop up health services under massive strain.

Though the official figures were shocking enough, health experts and even some governments acknowledge they do not capture the full spread of the virus. It often goes undetected in people with minor symptoms or none at all.

With airlines largely grounded, businesses closed, layoffs mounting and millions of people at home under lockdowns, the economic fallout was shaping into worse than the 2008 financial crisis.

Rather, comparisons were being drawn with such traumatic periods as World War Two or the 1930s Global Depression.

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In the world’s biggest economy, the US government has pumped in unprecedented aid, but still, weekly jobless claims jumped to a record 6.6 million – double the previous week that was also a first.

Morgan Stanley predicted the U.S. economy will shrink 5.5 percent this year, the steepest drop since 1946.

European stocks sank further.

Morgues and hospitals in New York City struggled to treat or bury casualties, as state governor Andrew Cuomo predicted similar misery for the rest of the country.

Staff at one medical centre in Brooklyn were seen disposing of gowns, caps and other protective wear in a sidewalk trash can after loading bodies into a refrigerated truck.

Spain and Italy were also counting their daily dead but prayed they were plateauing as data at least showed a slowdown in daily increases.

Some 900,000 Spanish workers have lost jobs.

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