MILAN, ITALY – MARCH 04: A utility service worker, wearing a face mask, deep cleans a Trenord train as a measure to prevent the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 (aka Coronavirus) at Porta Garibaldi train station on March 04, 2020 in Milan, Italy. Across Italy 2.502 people were infected by the novel Coronavirus so far.

Emanuele Cremaschi

European countries are battling with the coronavirus as the number of infected people keeps growing, while the death toll in Italy —the region’s epicenter —rose dramatically Thursday.

Italy’s Civil Protection Agency reported an additional 41 deaths from coronavirus late Thursday, taking the total to 148. More than 3,800 people have been infected in Europe’s worst-hit country, which announced 7.5 billion euros ($8.40 billion) in aid Thursday – twice as much as originally planned – to tackle the outbreak.

“The atmosphere is a bit unreal because it’s something in the middle of going back to business-as-usual and legitimate concern,” Antonio Ambrosetti, CEO of Italian business Ruling Companies, told CNBC’s Squawk Box Europe.

Italy has adopted the most drastic measures in response to the coronavirus in Europe so far. Schools and universities are closed until at least March 15, football fans are not allowed in stadiums to watch matches, and more people are being encouraged to work from home.

“What I think is that these measures of the government, which are quite extreme and evasive, are in fact necessary because the name of the game is to slow down the contagion,” Ambrosetti said Friday.

“There is an explosion of working from home…even companies who have never done smart working are doing it.”

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Meanwhile, health authorities in the northern region of Lombardy are telling patients to avoid hospitals with anything other than urgent matters.

Italian recession?

The Italian government has already warned that its 2020 deficit will be higher than initially planned. With the latest financial aid package of 7.5 billion euros, Italy is expecting its deficit to reach 2.5% this year – 0.3% higher than the estimations prior to the outbreak.

A waiter waits for customers at Bar Biffi in Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II Milan, on March 5, 2020. – Italy closed all schools and universities until March 15 to help combat the spread of the novel coronavirus crisis.


Analysts at Berenberg Bank said that Italy could face an economic recession this year, if the virus keeps spreading.

“We expect the situation in Europe, Japan and the U.S. to worsen through April before it starts to improve slightly at some point in May. This implies a near-term recession in Germany, Italy and Japan,” Berenberg bank said in a note Friday morning.

Cases rise in France, Germany, U.K.

Elsewhere in Europe, France recorded 138 additional cases Thursday, its biggest daily increase, bringing the number of infected people in the country to 423. One French lawmaker is in intensive care after being diagnosed with the virus.

In Germany, authorities said 109 new cases were confirmed on Thursday, taking the total to 349. While in the U.K. on Thursday, 30 additional cases were confirmed taking the total to 116, and the first person died from the virus.

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