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LATEST: Italy to extend quarantine until ‘at least’ April 12

LATEST: Italy to extend quarantine until 'at least' April 12
An empty street in central Rome. Photo: AFP
Italy is to extend nationwide quarantine measures until "at least" mid-April, the health minister said late on Monday.
Some of the measures currently in place to stop the spread of coronavirus, including the closure of most businesses and a ban on public gatherings, were set to expire on Friday April 3.

But Italian Health Minister Roberto Speranza announced on Monday evening that “all containment measures would be extended at least until Easter” on April 12.

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The government had already confirmed that schools would remain closed past the initial deadline of April 3.

The official announcement of the decree extending the quarantine period is expected on Wednesday or Thursday this week, the La Repubblica newspaper reported.

Despite evidence that COVID-19 is now spreading more slowly in the country, authorites have said this does not mean measures will be lifted and continue to urge people to remain at home.

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said any easing of containment measures would be done incrementally to ensure Italy does not undo any progress made against the disease.

The near three-week shutdown “had been very tough economically,” Conte told Spain's El Pais newspaper on Monday.

“It cannot last very long,” he said. “We can study ways (of lifting restrictions). But it will have to be done gradually.”

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Italy's ISS public health institute chief Silvio Brusaferro told La Repubblica on Monday that “we are witnessing a flattening of the curve,”

“There are no signs of a descent yet, but things are improving.”

Italy was the first Western nation to impose sweeping restrictions to stem the pandemic, which has now claimed more than 11,500 lives in the country.

There have been more than 101,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Italy as of Monday evening, however the number of infections again rose more slowly.

Italy is now almost three weeks into a national lockdown that has emptied cities and paralysed most business activity.

iLast week all non-essential businesses were closed down and fines for breaking quarantine rules increased up to a maximum of 3,000 euros, with some regions imposing even higher penalties.

ANALYSIS: Five reasons why the coronavirus hit Italy so hard

 

 


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