Covid-19: Italy’s health minister warns public to follow rules with a ‘difficult 7-8 months ahead’

Covid-19: Italy's health minister warns public to follow rules with a 'difficult 7-8 months ahead'
Italian health minister Roberto Speranza (L) arrives at Palazzo Chigi in Rome. Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP
'We need to resist', Health Minister Roberto Speranza said on Thursday, warning that safety rules must be followed until a vaccine is available.
Speranza called on the public to be patient with respect to the measures introduced to combat the spread of Covid-19.
 
“We need to resist, with the knife between our teeth, for the difficult next seven to eight months ahead,” Speranza told Italian journalists during a visit to the Sanofi plant near Rome, where the multinational is working on a potential vaccine.
 
“But while we resist, we must also look to the future.”
 
“The whole international community is at work on the vaccine and the hope is that we'll have good news in quite a short period of time.”
 
“In the months ahead, in which we do not have the Covid vaccine or cure, we will need correct behaviour from people,” he said, adding “that is what enabled us to bring down the curve in previous months”.
 
“The Italians, against every stereotype that we have had to deal with, have been the most orderly, loyal, and extraordinary country ever seen,” added the minister.
 
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His words came after Italian prime minister Giuseppe Conte confirmed on Thursday morning that the government plans to extend the current state of emergency until January 31st, 2021 – a year since it was first introduced.
 
Italy is on alert as cases continue to rise gradually, with spikes in the infection rate in some areas including the city of Naples. However, overall the numbers remain relatively low and stable compared to many other European countries.
 
 
Photo: AFP
 
Italian officials continue to recommend social distancing and frequent hand-washing, and there are strict rules on mask-wearing.
 
In Italy it remains mandatory to wear a mask outside between 6pm and 6am. The rule applies in all areas where there's a risk of crowding, like busy squares and streets lined with bars. Some regions such as Campania enforce mask-wearing in public 24 hours a day.

Police regularly patrol to enforce the rules and there are fines of up to €1,000 if you fail to comply.

Health authorities on Wednesday recorded 1,851 new cases in the last 24 hours, about 200 more than Tuesday's rise.
 
All regions recorded infections. Campania, once again, was worst hit with 287 new cases.
 
Hospitalisations continue to rise steadily, with 280 patients now in intensive care.
 
There were 19 deaths recorded on Wednesday, meaning the overall Italian death toll is now 35,894.
 
You can follow all of The Local's latest updates on the coronavirus situation in Italy here.

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