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Hard-hit Milan buries unclaimed coronavirus dead

Authorities in Milan on Thursday began burying dozens of coronavirus victims whose bodies have not been claimed by relatives in Italy's hardest-hit region.

Hard-hit Milan buries unclaimed coronavirus dead
White crosses mark the graves of coronavirus victims who were not claimed by relatives. Photos: Miguel Medina/AFP

With rows of small white crosses lining bulldozed trenches to receive the dead, Deputy Mayor Roberta Cocco stressed that the plot of land northwest of Italy's commercial capital is not a mass grave.

Nearly 13,000 people have already died of the virus in Lombardy, whose capital is Milan – more than half of Italy's total of over 25,000.

“This is not at all a mass grave, this is an area completely devoted tothese people who unfortunately were dead without any relatives around,” Cocco told journalists as the first 61 victims were laid to rest at the Musocco cemetery.

As the death toll in virus epicentre Lombardy rose and with morgues threatening to be overwhelmed, Milan decided to reduce the amount of time relatives had to claim a body from 30 days to five.

“Here we have 61 people who died during this terrible period, each of them has a specific name and has a cross just to be sure that they are recognisable,” said Cocco.

“This doesn't mean that they do not have parents or family, this simply means that in this specific period after five days of the death we didn't receive any communication about what to do with this person.”

Relatives who may not have been able to claim bodies because of tough quarantine restrictions or because they themselves were sick will be able to move their loved ones after two years “for sanitary reasons”, said Cocco.

The designated areas has room for up to 600 unclaimed bodies, though authorities hope they will not use all of the space.

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TRAVEL NEWS

Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

The mandatory EU-wide mask requirement for air travel is set to be dropped from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still require passengers to wear masks on some or all flights

Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

Europe-wide facemask rules on flights are set to be ditched as early as next week in light of new recommendations from health and air safety experts.

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) dropped recommendations for mandatory mask-wearing in airports and during flights in updated Covid-19 safety measures for travel issued on Wednesday, May 11th.

The new rules are expected to be rolled out from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still continue to require the wearing of masks on some or all of flights. And the updated health safety measures still say that wearing a face mask remains one of the best ways to protect against the transmission of the virus.

The joint EASA/ECDC statement reminded travellers that masks may still be required on flights to destinations in certain countries that still require the wearing of masks on public transport and in transport hubs.

It also recommends that vulnerable passengers should continue to wear a face mask regardless of the rules, ideally an FFP2/N95/KN95 type mask which offers a higher level of protection than a standard surgical mask.

“From next week, face masks will no longer need to be mandatory in air travel in all cases, broadly aligning with the changing requirements of national authorities across Europe for public transport,” EASA executive director Patrick Ky said in the statement. 

“For passengers and air crews, this is a big step forward in the normalisation of air travel. Passengers should however behave responsibly and respect the choices of others around them. And a passenger who is coughing and sneezing should strongly consider wearing a face mask, for the reassurance of those seated nearby.”  

ECDC director Andrea Ammon added: “The development and continuous updates to the Aviation Health Safety Protocol in light of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic have given travellers and aviation personnel better knowledge of the risks of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and its variants. 

“While risks do remain, we have seen that non-pharmaceutical interventions and vaccines have allowed our lives to begin to return to normal. 

“While mandatory mask-wearing in all situations is no longer recommended, it is important to be mindful that together with physical distancing and good hand hygiene it is one of the best methods of reducing transmission. 

“The rules and requirements of departure and destination states should be respected and applied consistently, and travel operators should take care to inform passengers of any required measures in a timely manner.”

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