Italy to use army to enforce coronavirus lockdown in worst-hit region

Italian military trucks ride through the streets of Bergamo, Italy during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, amid local media reports that they were deployed to transport coffins to cemeteries, in this still image taken from social media video, obtained March 19, 2020. Eugenio Lafrate via REUTERS

ROME (Reuters) - The president of Lombardy said on Friday the government had agreed to deploy the army in his region to enforce the lockdown against the coronavirus epidemic, which is not slowing down.

“(The request to use the army) has been accepted... and 114 soldiers will be on the ground throughout Lombardy... it is still too little, but it is positive,” Attilio Fontana told a news conference.

Lombardy has also asked the government to further tighten the restrictions already in place, which include the closure of all non-essential commercial activities and a ban on public gatherings.

Fontana, without giving numbers, added that contagion is still spreading in Lombardy, the Italian region which has so far registered by far the highest number of cases and deaths in Italy.

“Unfortunately we are not seeing a change of trend in the numbers, which are rising,” he said.

Reporting by Elisa Anzolin, writing by Angelo Amante, editing by Gavin Jones