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Then-and-now photos show Rome tourist attractions nearly deserted in outbreak

Some of the most-visited sites in Rome are ghost towns as Italy tries to stop the coronavirus outbreak that has sickened 12,000 in 3 weeks.

ROME, Metropolitan City of Rome — Italy has closed all stores nationwide except pharmacies and grocery stores in response to the country’s coronavirus outbreak. 

The tighter restrictions on daily life are the government’s latest effort to respond to the fast-moving crisis that took Italy’s number of cases from three to 12,462 in less than three weeks.

Some hospitals in hard-hit Lombardy are at a saturation point given limited intensive care beds. 

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The country is in virtual lockdown, leaving many of the busiest tourist sites in the country nearly deserted.

The Associated Press has released a series of then-and-now photos to show what kind of activity these places enjoyed before the pandemic and how they look today.

Trevi Fountain: June 2017 and March 11, 2020

Credit: AP
FILE - This combo of two images shows people walking around Rome's Trevi fountain at 9.48gmt on Monday, June 12, 2017, top, and at 13.00gmt on Wednesday, March 11, 2020. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

Spanish Steps: November 2019 and March 10, 2020

Credit: AP
FILE - This combo of two images shows Rome's Spanish Steps at 4.03 pm on Thursday, Nov. 14, 2019, top, and at 5.36 pm on Tuesday, March 10, 2020. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

Pantheon: June 2019 and March 11, 2020

Credit: AP
FILE - This combo of two images shows tourists sitting in front of the Pantheon, in Rome, at 13.47gmt, Friday, June 7, 2019, top and at 13.00gmt on Wednesday, March 11, 2020. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia, Andrew Medichini)

Roman forum: April 2015 and March 11, 2020

Credit: AP
FILE - This combo of two images shows tourists visiting the ancient Roman forum and the Colosseum, in Rome at 18.23gmt on Friday, April 17, 2015, top and at 13.00gmt on Wednesday, March 11, 2020. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia/Andrew Medichini)

Colosseum: April 2018 and March 11, 2020

Credit: AP
FILE - This combo of two images shows Rome's ancient Colosseum, top, at 12.49gmt on Sunday April 8, 2018, and at 13.00gmt of Wednesday, March 11, 2020. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo, Andrew Medichini)

Sant'Angelo Bridge: September 2019 and March 11, 2020

Credit: AP
FILE - This combo of two images shows the Sant'Angelo bridge leading up to Castel Sant'Angelo, in Rome, at 8.32gmt on Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2019, top and at 13.30gmt on Wednesday, March 11, 2020. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

Premier Giuseppe Conte thanked the public for cooperating with the already unprecedented travel and social restrictions that took effect Tuesday.

But he said Wednesday night on Facebook Live that Italy must "go another step'' by closing all shops and businesses except for food stores, pharmacies and other shops selling ''essential'' items.