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Milan is a ticking coronavirus ‘bomb’ under phase two, virologist warns

Milan is a coronavirus time "bomb" at risk of a new wave of contagion, an Italian virologist has warned, with "a very high number of infected people" now moving around.

Milan is a ticking coronavirus 'bomb' under phase two, virologist warns
People stroll along the Navigli canals in Milan on May 8th. Photo: AFP

Photos of crowds in Milan's canalside area sitting, walking, or enjoying aperitivo in the sunshine, many without wearing masks or respecting social distancing rules, were splashed over the front pages of Italy's main dailies on Friday, sparking angry comments under the hashtag #navigli on Italian social media.

The city in the northern Lombardy region is at the epicentre of Italy's outbreak, one of the worst in Europe in terms of deaths and infections.

More than 80,000 infections have been recorded in Lombardy – almost 40 percent of Italy's overall cases – according to official data.

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Only 33,000 of Lombardy's cases are considered recovered.

The region's capital Milan, is “a bit of a bomb,” said Massimo Galli, the head of the infectious diseases department at the renowned Sacco hospital in Milan.

“We have a very high number of infected people returning to circulation,” he said in an interview with the La Repubblica newspaper, referring to the easing of lockdown measures on May 4.

Galli said it was clear the easing of the lockdown “may present problems”.

Milan's Mayor Giuseppe Sala slammed the canal-side behaviour as “shameful” and issued an “ultimatum” on social media, threatening to close down the well-known aperitif area of Naviglio if people persist in flouting the rules.

Milan and much of northern Italy was put under lockdown exactly two months ago, days before the rules were rolled out nationwide.

Lombardy has logged some 15,000 deaths, around half of Italy's 30,000 coronavirus fatalities, since the outbreak first erupted in early March.

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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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