Rome, March 15 (IANS) Italians took to their balconies to praise doctors and healthcare personnel for their efforts in fighting the coronavirus pandemic in the country, which has reported the maximum number of cases and deaths outside China, and raise spirits amid a national lockdown.
As of Sunday, the number of cases in the country increased to 21,157, with 1,441 deaths.
On Saturday while speaking to the media, Civil protection chief Angelo Borrelli said that the ranks of coronavirus patients who have recovered grew by 527 to 1,966.
The country has had the second-highest infection numbers in the world, after China where the pandemic originated in Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province, last December.
However, several morale-boosting initiatives have been launched on social media during the long hours people have had to spend at home.
The most recent of these initiatives came on Saturday as Italians took to their balconies and windows at midday to applaud the efforts of medics against the virus.
In Rome’s San Giovanni neighbourhood, banners were hung from some buildings bearing slogans such as “Everything is going to be fine”.
The same motto has been displayed from the balcony of the office of Rome’s mayor Virginia Raggi at the Campidoglio palace.
Similar initiatives were carried out across other cities such as Milan, the capital of Lombardy, one of the worst-hit Italian areas in the pandemic, as well as Napoli in the south of the European country.
The President of Lazio Nicola Zingaretti, who has tested positive for the virus, also celebrated the people who had lined up to donate blood.
“A heartfelt thanks to the Italians, we are proving once again that we are a great people,” he posted to his Facebook account from his quarantine.
“Let’s continue like this because we need it. Applause and a huge thanks to you, Italian Health workers.”
Over the past few days there have been a number of morale-boosting initiatives across Italy, with people singing the national anthem and traditional songs from their windows.
On March 9, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced restrictions on movement in a bid to contain the outbreak.
He called on Italians to stay at home and only leave in the case of extreme need, such as going to work or for shopping.
Only small groups were allowed to enter shops, with queues stretching into the street as people lined up with one-metre spaces between each other, and most of them wearing masks and gloves.
In Rome, the streets, care homes, nurseries and public transport have been disinfected, while parks and other spaces have also been closed.