‘We’re out of the storm’: Health minister says Italy is past the worst of the Covid-19 crisis

'We're out of the storm': Health minister says Italy is past the worst of the Covid-19 crisis
Medical workers at the Tor Vergata Covid-19 hospital in Rome. Photo: AFP
Italian Health Minister Roberto Speranza said Italy is now past the worst of the crisis, but stressed that caution is still needed.

“I believe Italy has made it,” Speranza said in a speech on Tuesday to the Coldiretti agricultural group's general assembly. “I'm not thinking of the government but of the country as a whole.”

“We were the first to be hit in the world after China, we didn't have an instruction manual. We had to learn about the virus,” he added.

Italy was the first European counry to be hit by the Covid-19 outbreak, which has now claimed more than 35,000 lives in Italy according to government figures.

“We're out of the storm,” the minister added, “even if not yet in a safe port.”

“I think we need to be honest with each other: these have been the most difficult months in the history of the country since the Second World War”.

“The international situation worries me a lot,” he added, saying the world had reached “the worst moment of the epidemic.”

But he stressed that “the general situation cannot allow us to say that this is in the past. It will only be a thing of the past when we have a vaccine”.

Italian Health Minister Roberto Speranza. File photo: AFP

Referring to the 209 billion euros allocated to Italy from the European rescue fund – 28 percent of the total – after an agreement was reached between EU leaders on Tuesday, Speranza said: “We have an enormous responsibility, unprecedented resources, but we must spend them well.”

Italy's government now faces the task of trying to rebuild the economy and mitigating the impact of the expected major recession after the country's strict coronavirus lockdown, which lasted almost three months and saw almost all business activity in the country completely shut down. 

READ ALSO: Italy's mortality rate doubled during worst month of Covid-19 outbreak, study shows

 

Italy was the first European country to implement a nationwide lockdown, announced on March 9th. authorties enforced strict rules that prevented people from leaving their homes other than for essential reasons.

While the lockdown began to ease as of May 4th and most restrictions have now been rolled back, Italy still has a number of precautionary measures in place aimed at preventing the spread of the coronavirus, including the requirement to wear masks in shops and on public transport.

There were 282 new cases of Covid-19 recorded in 24 hours, Italian officials reported on Wednesday July 22nd. There were nine deaths recorded in the same period, bringing the country's total death toll to 35.082. 

There are some 12,322 people known to be currently infected in Italy.

Ministers are still discussing whether or not to extend the current state of emergency in Italy beyond the cut-off date of July 31st. It is widely expected to be prolonged until October 31st though this has not yet been officially confirmed, Italian media reports.


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