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Italian PM announces stricter anti-pandemic measures

Rome :  Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has announced stricter measures to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus, after the country reported 22,253 new infections in 24 hours, which increased the overall tally to 731,588.

While addressing Parliament on Monday, Conte said “unfortunately over the past few weeks the resurgence of the pandemic has led to a significant multiplication of infections” and this is why his government is about to issue a new decree with more restrictions, reports Xinhua news agency.

Conte said that under the new decree, will be effective immediately for about a month, high school and university students will have to return to online learning, galleries and museums will close, passengers on public transportation will be reduced to 50 per cent of capacity, and shopping centres will have to shut down during holidays to reduce crowding.

He also said that unnecessary travel to and from high-risk regions will be banned, and people will not be allowed to go out at night except in cases of necessity.

Conte however, did not specify the curfew hours.

He told lawmakers on Monday that the government’s new decree would place Italy’s 20 regions into three risk levels, with each higher level entailing stricter containment measures: regions under type 4 scenario will have the strictest measures, those under type 3 scenario will have intermediate restrictions, and regions with the lowest levels of risk (types 1 and 2) will have the most relaxed restrictions.

The Prime Minister said these measures are necessary even though the number of new infections in Italy is “less than half of those in France, about half of those in Spain, and less than half of those in the UK”.

Conte said the latest weekly monitoring report from the National Institute of Health (ISS), “has forced us to envisage” the measures “in order to put the nation out of danger.”

In that report, which covered the week of October 19-25, ISS said the pandemic situation in Italy “is deteriorating further, with the number of new cases almost double compared with the week of October 12-18 (100,446 cases vs 52,960 cases)”.

“The overall situation is confirmed to be critical,” the ISS report said, adding that 11 out of Italy’s 20 regions are “to be considered at high risk of uncontrolled transmission of SARS-CoV-2”.

The Prime Minister emphasised that the current situation is different from the first wave of the pandemic last spring, “when we were invaded by an unknown and invisible enemy and we were forced to protect ourselves within our homes”.

Now, he said, the country is “self-sufficient” in terms of equipment and supplies to fight the virus.

The government is committed to guaranteeing economic protection to workers, businesses and families “for as long as it takes”, Conte reassured.

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