March 16, 2020 / 1:40 PM / 24 days ago

Italy adopts 25 bln euro package to help coronavirus-hit economy -source

ROME, March 16 (Reuters) - Italy has adopted a decree worth 25 billion euros ($27.80 billion) to help support an economy battered by the worst outbreak of coronavirus in Europe, a government source on Monday following a cabinet meeting.

Italy recorded 368 deaths from COVID-19 on Sunday alone, easily the biggest daily toll ever recorded in any country, including China, and its hospitals are struggling to cope with the flow of new cases.

The decree aims to soften the blow to an economy virtually halted by the draconian measures put in place last week to try to stem the contagion. Schools, shops, restaurants and sporting events are closed, and Italians have been told to stay at home unless they have essential needs.

Among a raft of measures, the decree suspends debt payments for companies thanks to state guarantees for banks, and increases funds to help firms pay workers temporarily laid off due to the lockdown, according to a draft seen by Reuters. ($1 = 0.8994 euros) (Reporting by Giuseppe Fonte, writing by Gavin Jones; Editing by Crispian Balmer)

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