By NewsDesk  @infectiousdiseasenews

Italian health officials reported today an additional 889 COVID-19 deaths, putting the country over the 10,000 mark with 10,023, about one-third of the global total.


A additional 6,000 cases were reported during the past 24 hours, putting the Italy total at 92,472. Nearly 40,000 cases have been reported in the hard hit northern region of Lombardy.

Currently, 26,676 people are hospitalized with symptoms, while 3,856 patients are severe enough to require intensive care treatment.

The President of the Italian Council of Ministers, Giuseppe Conte, was one of nine European leaders to sign a letter to the President of the European Council, Charles Michel concerning coronavirus:

The Coronavirus pandemic is an unprecedented shock and requires exceptional measures to contain the spread of contagion within national borders and between countries, to strengthen our health systems, to safeguard the production and distribution of essential goods and services and, not least, to limit the negative effects that shock has on European economies. 

All European countries have adopted or are taking measures to contain the spread of the virus. Their success will depend on the synchronization, the extent and coordination with which the various governments will implement the containment health measures.

We need to align practices across Europe, building on successful past experience, expert analysis, the overall exchange of information. It is necessary now, in the most acute phase of the epidemic. The coordination that you have initiated, with Ursula von der Leyen, in the video-conferences between the leaders is helpful in this regard.

It will also be necessary in the future, when we can gradually reduce the severe measures adopted today, avoiding both an excessively rapid return to normal and the return of infection from other countries. We must ask the European Commission to develop shared guidelines, a common basis for the collection and sharing of medical and epidemiological information, and a strategy for tackling the unsynchronized development of the pandemic in the near future.

While we implement unprecedented socio-economic measures, which impose a slowdown in economic activity never experienced before, we still need to guarantee the production and distribution of essential goods and services, and the free circulation of vital medical devices within the EU. Preserving the functioning of the single market is fundamental to providing all European citizens with the best possible assistance and the widest guarantee that there will be no shortcomings of any kind.

We are therefore committed to keeping our internal borders open to the necessary exchange of goods, information and the essential movements of our citizens, in particular those of cross-border workers. We also need to ensure that the main value chains can function fully within the EU’s borders and that no strategic production is subject to hostile acquisitions at this stage of economic difficulty. Our efforts will primarily be aimed at ensuring the production and distribution of basic medical equipment and protective devices, to make them available, at affordable prices and in a timely manner to those who need them most. 

The extraordinary measures we are taking to contain the virus have negative effects on our economies in the short term. We therefore need to take extraordinary actions that limit economic damage and prepare us to take the next steps. This global crisis requires a coordinated response at European level. The ECB announced on Thursday 19 March a series of unprecedented measures which, together with the decisions taken the week before, will support the Euro and stem financial tensions.

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The European Commission has also announced a wide range of actions to ensure that the tax measures that Member States have to take are not hindered by the rules of the Stability and Growth Pact and state aid legislation. In addition, the Commission and the European Investment Bank (EIB) have announced a policy package that will allow Member States to use all available resources from the EU budget and to benefit from EIB tools to fight the epidemic and its consequences.

Member States will have to do their part and ensure that as few people as possible lose their jobs due to the temporary closure of entire sectors of the economy, that fewer companies fail, that liquidity continues to reach the economy and that banks continue to lend despite late payments and increased risk. All this requires unprecedented resources and a regulatory approach that protects work and financial stability.

The ECB’s monetary policy instruments will therefore have to be accompanied by similarly audacious fiscal policy decisions, such as the ones we have started to take, with the support of clear and resolute messages from us, as leaders in the European Council. 

We must recognize the gravity of the situation and the need for further reaction to strengthen our economies today, in order to put them in the best conditions for a quick restart tomorrow. This requires the activation of all common tax instruments to support national efforts and to guarantee financial solidarity, especially in the Eurozone. 

In particular, we must work on a common debt instrument issued by an EU institution to collect resources on the market on the same basis and for the benefit of all Member States, thus guaranteeing stable and long-term financing of policies aimed at combating damage caused by this pandemic. 

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There are good reasons to support this common tool, since we are all facing an exogenous symmetric shock, for which no country is responsible, but whose negative consequences weigh on everyone. And we must collectively account for an effective and united European response. This common debt instrument will need to be of sufficient size and long-term to be fully effective and to avoid refinancing risks now as in the future.

The funds raised will be used to finance, in all Member States, the necessary investments in health systems and temporary policies aimed at protecting our economies and our social model.

With the same spirit of efficiency and solidarity, we will be able to explore other instruments within the EU budget, such as a specific fund for expenditure related to the fight against Coronavirus, at least for the years 2020 and 2021, beyond those already announced by the Commission.  

By giving a clear message of wanting to tackle this unique shock together, we would strengthen the Economic and Monetary Union and, above all, we would send a strong signal to our citizens about the determined and resolute cooperation with which the European Union is committed to providing a response. effective and unitary. 

We also need to prepare together “the next day” and reflect on how we organize our economies across our borders, global value chains, strategic sectors, healthcare systems, common investments and European projects. 

If we want tomorrow’s Europe to live up to its historic aspirations, we must act today and prepare for our common future. So let’s open the debate now and move forward, without hesitation.