Coronavirus: All stores except food shops and pharmacies to close in Italy

Italy has announced all stores except food markets and pharmacies will be closed as it struggles to get to grips with coronavirus.

The country has been on virtual lockdown since earlier this week as Covid-19 continues to spread.

Italy has more than 10,000 infections - the biggest outside China - and the country is taking measures to try to limit the spread of the disease.

The government announced on Wednesday it was earmarking 25 billion euros (nearly £22 billion) to boost anti-virus efforts and soften economic blows, including delaying tax and mortgage payments by families and businesses.

Italy's civil protection chief Angelo Borrelli said the number of cases had reached 12,462 - an increase of 2,076 cases since Tuesday.

He also said the death toll in Italy had reached 827, after 196 more people lost their lives over the past 24 hours.

It comes as the World Health Organization officially declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic on Wednesday.

A man carries chairs outside a cafe in the town of Codogno, in the region of Lombardia, northern Italy. Credit: AP

Coronavirus: Everything you need to know

Borrelli spoke alongside Giovanni Rezza, epidemiologist at Italy's Higher Institute of Health, who reacted to the World Health Organisation declaring the new virus outbreak a pandemic.

"It does not change much for us," Rezza said, adding, "What the WHO is emphasising is that various countries have done little to hold it back and to put a break on the circulation of the virus."

Food stores will remain open. Credit: AP

Life for Italians had already been disturbed prior to the closure of stores.

Serie A football games have already been cancelled or postponed to limit the spread of the disease. Some games were played behind closed doors prior to the suspension of the league.

And police have been out on the streets to ensure Italians were abiding by the rules of self-isolation.

The vast majority of people recover from the new virus. According to the World Health Organization, people with mild illness recover in about two weeks, while those with more severe illness may take three to six weeks to recover.

In mainland China, where the virus first exploded, more than 80,000 people have been diagnosed and more than 58,000 have so far recovered.