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HEALTH

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.

Covid-19: Italy has fewer cases because UK is 'freedom-loving', says British PM Johnson
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.”
 

 
Social media users in the UK, Italy and elsewhere responded to Johnson's words with disbelief and mockery.
 

 

 

   
The Conservative leader was in the House of Commons to set out new restrictions to deal with a recent surge in virus cases in the UK.
 
The UK is currently reporting around 4,000 new cases a day, while the figure in Italy is around 1,500.
 
Italy was the first country outside China to face a major coronavirus outbreak, but has recently managed to keep infection rates relatively low compared to
Spain, France and Britain.
 
 
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.

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HEALTH

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.

Italy begins monkeypox vaccination drive in four regions

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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