Covid-19: Italy has fewer cases because UK is ‘freedom-loving’, says British PM Johnson
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson suggested on Tuesday that coronavirus infections were higher in Britain than in Italy or Germany because it was a "freedom-loving country" and said it is "very difficult" to ask Brits to follow rules.
Published: 22 September 2020 15:50 CEST
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Photo: Justin Tallis/AFP
He was responding to criticism that the UK's contact tracing and testing programme is not working well enough in the face of a surge in cases of Covid-19.
Opposition Labour MP Ben Bradshaw asked the prime minister if “the reason Germany and Italy have far lower Covid rates than us” is because their services work.
Johnson rejected his argument, adding: “Actually there is an important difference between our country and many other countries around the world, that is that our country is a freedom-loving country.”
“If you look at the history of this country over the last 300 years, virtually every advance from free speech to democracy has come from this country. And it is very difficult to ask the British population uniformly to obey guidelines in the way that it is necessary.”
Experts in Italy credit the relatively low number of cases to the country's “timely, rigorous and prolonged lockdown”, as well as a functioning test-and-trace system.
Lockdown “worked better here in Italy than in other countries that have hesitated to close, closed less, and reopened earlier,” Dr Nino Cartabellotta, a leading Italian public health expert, professor, and president of Gimbe, Italy's Group for Evidence-based Medicine.
“There is no evidence that individual and social behaviours like the use of masks, social distancing, or no gatherings, have been better in Italy than elsewhere,” he told The Local.
Italy begins monkeypox vaccination drive in four regions
Italy this week began offering vaccination against monkeypox in regions with the most confirmed cases, the health ministry said.
Published: 9 August 2022 16:20 CEST
The first vaccinations against monkeypox, or vaiolo delle scimmie, were carried out in the Lazio region on Monday at Rome’s Spallazani hospital for infectious diseases.
The vaccination campaign will soon be extended to the three other Italian regions with the highest number of monkeypox cases: Emilia Romagna, Lombardy and Veneto.
A total of 4,200 jabs are available in Italy at the moment, according to national broadcaster Rai.
Italy has recorded just over 500 cases so far, though health authorities say the disease continues to spread.
Italy currently recommends vaccination for people in the following high-risk groups;
laboratory staff at risk of possible direct exposure to orthopoxvirus
gay, transgender, bisexual and other men who have sex with men
The World Health Organization said on Saturday that the monkeypox outbreak represents a global health emergency. So far this year, there have been more than 16,000 cases in more than 75 countries. Five deaths – all in Africa – have been linked to the virus.
First detected in humans in 1970, monkeypox is less dangerous and contagious than the eradicated smallpox virus, which it resembles, and an existing smallpox vaccine is being used against it.
See further details of the vaccination drive on the health ministry’s official website here or speak to your healthcare provider for more information.
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