Football cancelled but Milan Fashion Week carries on amid coronavirus fears

It was business as usual Saturday for Milan Fashion Week despite a clutch of coronavirus cases including two fatalities near the northern venue. Three matches in Italy's Serie A were however cancelled.

Football cancelled but Milan Fashion Week carries on amid coronavirus fears

Barely 60 kilometres (35 miles) away from the capital of the Lombardy region, where outfits from Salvatore Ferragamo and Ermanno Scervino were headlining runway interest, 39 confirmed cases have emerged.

The small town of Codogno, about an hour away from Italy's business capital by road, was in lockdown along with several other neighbouring towns after the deaths of an elderly woman and man.

Second coronavirus death sparks fears, lockdown in Italian towns

Those fatalities saw Italy become the first country in Europe to report the death of one of its own nationals from the virus.

Authorities confirmed Saturday the other people infected had all had contact with “patient number one”, a 38-year-old man still in intensive care in Codogno.

Members of his family, friends and his doctors are all among those who have been diagnosed with the COVID-19 virus and Italian authorities have reacted by asking some 50,000 people in the area to stay at home to keep the virus spread at bay.

“The (fashion) shows are going ahead calmly, there is no panic, there are no cases of contamination or suspicion of cases in Milan or in our sector for the moment and we hope that stays so,” said Carlo Capasa, president of Italy's National Fashion Chamber.

“Prevention measures are absolutely active — we are in permanent contact with health institutions who tell us the situation is under control,” Capasa told AFP.

Three Italian Serie A football matches postponed over coronavirus fears

Italian authorities have ordered the postponement of three Serie A football matches on Sunday over coronavirus fears in northern Italy.

The matches between title-chasing Inter Milan and Sampdoria, Atalanta against Sassuolo and Hellas Verona versus Cagliari have been pushed back to avoid the spread of the virus with 79 confirmed cases in an outbreak that has claimed two lives in the country.

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Former Italian PM faces investigation over Covid response

Italian prime minister Giuseppe Conte is set to undergo a judicial inquiry over claims his government's response to the Covid-19 outbreak in early 2020 was too slow.

Former Italian PM faces investigation over Covid response

Prosecutors in Bergamo, the northern city that was one of the epicentres of the coronavirus outbreak in Europe, targeted Conte after wrapping up their three-year inquiry, according to media reports.

Conte, now president of the populist Five Star movement, was prime minister from 2018 to 2021 and oversaw the initial measures taken to halt the spread of what would become a global pandemic.

Investigating magistrates suspect that Conte and his government underestimated the contagiousness of Covid-19 even though available data showed that cases were spreading rapidly in Bergamo and the surrounding region.

They note that in early March 2020 the government did not create a “red zone” in two areas hit hardest by the outbreak, Nembro and Alzano Lombardo, even though security forces were ready to isolate the zone from the rest of the country.

READ ALSO: ‘Not offensive’: Italian minister defends Covid testing rule for China arrivals

Red zones had already been decreed in late February for around a dozen other nearby municipalities including Codogno, the town where the initial Covid case was reportedly found.

Conte’s health minister Roberto Speranza as well as the president of the Lombardy region, Attilio Fontana, are also under investigation, the reports said.

Bergamo prosecutors allege that according to scientific experts, earlier quarantines could have saved thousands of lives.

Conte, quoted by Il Corriere della Sera and other media outlets, said he was “unworried” by the inquiry, saying his government had acted “with the utmost commitment and responsibility during one of the most difficult moments of our republic.”

READ ALSO: Italy’s constitutional court upholds Covid vaccine mandate as fines kick in

Similar cases have been lodged against officials elsewhere, alleging that authorities failed to act quickly enough against a virus that has killed an estimated 6.8 million people worldwide since early 2020.

In January, France’s top court threw out a case against former health minister Agnes Buzyn, a trained doctor, over her allegedly “endangering the lives of others” by initially playing down the severity of Covid-19.