Covid-19: Italy to announce further restrictions as new cases continue to rise

Covid-19: Italy to announce further restrictions as new cases continue to rise
Visitors wearing masks stand by the Colosseum in central Rome on October 16th. Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP
The Italian government is expected to announce a new emergency decree by Monday, less than a week after it signed off on the last set of rules aimed at slowing the spread of coronvirus.

The Italian health minister met with regional governors on Saturday to discuss tightened measures,  the head of the north-western region of Liguria Giovanni Toti said.

READ ALSO: Eight charts that show the state of the coronavirus pandemic in Italy

“We are working on some measures,” Toti wrote on his Facebook page, adding that the government aims to encourage more people to go back to remote working, and for schools to teach some, but not all, classes online.

He said officials had ruled out a French-style evening curfew, or any further restrictions on bars and restaurants, following widespread reports in Italian media on Saturday that both were being considered.
 
Italian prime minister Giuseppe Conte is set to lay out the new measures at a press conference on Sunday, a spokesperson for Palazzo Chigi stated
 
“The predictions published in these days and hours in the media are to be considered hypotheses that do not correspond to the truth,” the spokesperson told Italian media. 
 
“The government's invitation to the media is to avoid fueling confusion among citizens, waiting for official communications that will take place tomorrow with a press conference by the prime minister.”
 
The worst-hit Italian regions of Lombardy and Campania have already introduced stricter measures in recent days.
 
 
On Saturday, Italy recorded 10,925 new coronavirus cases, another daily record high.
 
There were 47 more deaths.
 
67 more patients were admitted to intensive care (for a total of 701) and there were 439 further non-ICU hospitalisations (6,617 overall).
 
The sharp increase in new cases recorded over the past week are thought to be partly explained by a much higher number of tests being carried out. 
 
However, the percentage of swabs coming back positive has also been rising and is at a new high of nine percent on Saturday.
 

 

There are fears that if the numbers continue to rise at current rates, Italy's healthcare system would not be able to cope.
 
Doctors are already warning that intensive care units in all regions are under pressure
 
The president of the national association of anesthetists and ICU doctors, Alessandro Vergallo, told the Ansa news agency on Friday that “the continuation of intensive care in 10 regions is particularly at risk … but we find ourselves in a situation of alert in all regions”.
 
 
In the 10 regions, Vergallo said, hospitals were close to the government-set limit of 30 percent of beds assigned to Covid patients.
 
In other regions, he said, there was also a risk of “saturation of Covid places if the trend of infections doesn't change”.
 
Italy, the first European country to be hit by the pandemic, had managed to get the contagion under control by the summer thanks to a lockdown lasting more than two months, shutting down most busineses and tightly restricting movements.
 
However infections have been slowly increasing again since August, and the curve has risen sharply nationwide in recent weeks.

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