Why Lombardy is set to double total lockdown period compared to rest of Italy

Authorities in the Lombardia region - the worst hit by the outbreak of the coronavirus in Italy and where Milan is located - have decided they want to extend the full quarantine period to 28 days rather than 14 for its 10 million residents. Here's why.

Why Lombardy is set to double total lockdown period compared to rest of Italy
Photo: AFP

Lombardy Welfare Minister Giulio Gallera announced on Saturday April 11th that his regional government was planning to roll out a measure which will determine when the region’s 10 million residents get to leave their homes and return to a life of normality.

During the press conference, Gallera told reporters that “a brief which explains how quarantine will last until May 3rd is going to be released”.

So while in the rest of Italy there will be a gradual recovery of some activities from April 14th (including the reopening of stationary stores, agricultural machinery businesses and forestry companies), in the region which houses cities badly hit by the coronavirus such as Milan and Bergamo there will be full lockdown and economic hibernation until May 3rd.

READ ALSO: What are Italy's coronavirus quarantine rules?

Those who have tested positive and are home and not at work will have a certificate from their quarantine doctor valid until May 3rd.

“These 14 days will serve to see if symptoms appear, but many people are still positive, therefore we want to guarantee everyone a longer (lockdown) period.

“The idea therefore is to fix it at 28 days”.

Lombardia accounts for 59,052 of the 156,363 Covid-19 cases reported in Italy since the outbreak began.

There are currently 31,265 people in the region who are still infected with the virus.

Lombardy has also had the majority of Covid-19 deaths in Italy – 58.4 percent. 

The regional government’s decision stems from the fact that it is not yet known how long people infected by the coronavirus stay “positive”, nor how long people with the virus remain contagious, nor even when the antibodies that help prevent reinfection appear.

“There are many people who are still testing positive after 14 days,” Gallera explained.

This extension mainly concerns those who are already in quarantine because they tested positive and those who will be infected in the following weeks.

For people who are currently infected, the waiting time before returning to work will be extended until May 3rd.

This is a crucial date as the following day Italy’s government currently intends “Phase Two” to begin, described as an intermediary period between the current strict lockdown, and “Phase Three”, during which the country will begin its gradual return to normality.

For those who test positive for Covid-19 in the coming weeks, medical certificates will guarantee their justified absence from work for two to four weeks.

“The data fluctuates based on the number of swabs and there are 10 times more positive out there which continue to spread the virus,”Massimo Galli, infectious disease specialist at Milan’s Sacco hospital told broadcaster Mediaset.

A total of 1,544 swabs tested positive for Covid-19 in Milan from Saturday to Sunday, double that of the previous day and Galli believes around half a million people could be currently infected in the region, most without having knowledge of it.

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