March 19, 2020 / 8:03 PM / 12 days ago

Italian PM says EU must use 500 billion euro rescue fund during virus outbreak -FT

March 19 (Reuters) - Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said in an interview that the European Union must use “the full firepower” of its 500 billion euro ($534.10 billion) rescue fund to confront Europe’s economic crisis during the coronavirus outbreak.

The Italian Prime Minister told the Financial Times newspaper that monetary policy alone is insufficient to combat the problem.

“Monetary policy alone cannot solve all problems; we need to do the same on the fiscal front”, Conte said.

“The route to follow is to open ESM (European Stability Mechanism) credit lines to all member states to help them fight the consequences of the COVID-19 epidemic,” he added.

Italy’s death toll from coronavirus overtook that of China, where the virus first emerged, on Thursday as hospitals said they were being overwhelmed and the government prepared to prolong emergency lockdown measures.

A total of 427 deaths were registered in Italy over the past 24 hours, bringing the total nationwide tally to 3,405 since the outbreak surfaced on Feb. 21. ($1 = 0.9362 euros)

Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Kirsten Donovan

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