Coronavirus: Italians keep spirits up by singing from balconies during lockdown

Gesture gives thanks to healthcare works helping infected patients

Despite being stuck in their homes, residents in Italy's capital had not lost their spirits as they took to their windows and balconies to applaud medical staff fighting the coronavirus on Saturday.

At noon, residents came out on their balconies, terraces, gardens or simply leaned out from open windows to clap for several minutes in a gesture of thanks for the doctors, nurses and other hospital staff and ambulance crews who have been treating and helping infected patients.

In several neighborhoods of Rome, people clapped hands, waved the national flag and shouted for people to stay united and strong.

Italy is the European country worst-hit by the virus outbreak.

On Friday, Italian authorities reported more than 17,600 confirmed cases of the virus and 1,266 deaths.

The government ordered an unprecedented lockdown, ordering businesses to close and restricting people's movement.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.

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.