Italy bets on tighter coronavirus measures now for relief later

AFP - [email protected]
Italy bets on tighter coronavirus measures now for relief later
Italian Health Minister Roberto Speranza meets with journalists after medical workers of the Spallanzani infectious disease hospital received an injection of their first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine, in Rome, on December 27, 2020. - The Spallanzani hospital, which has played a central role in the fight against the coronavirus crisis in Italy, is set to become the country's central hub for the distribution of the Pfizer vaccine, approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) on 21 December. (Photo by ANDREAS SOLARO / AFP)

Italy's health minister said on Sunday the government hoped new coronavirus restrictions imposed on three quarters of the country would allow a relaxation of measures in the second half of spring.


Roberto Speranza's comments in Sunday's La Repubblica newspaper came on the eve of restrictions taking effect from Monday and running until April 6, which would cover the crucial Easter holiday period.

"The implementation of more stringent measures and the gradual increase in the number of people vaccinated make us think we will have improving figures by the second half of spring already," he said.

CHARTS: How many people has Italy vaccinated so far?

The new factor had been the recent mutations of the original virus, particularly the one identified in England, which now accounted for more than half the cases.

But he added: "Each dose of vaccine injected is a step in the direction of the way out of the crisis."


Although several countries have suspended the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine because of concerns over side-effects, Speranza expressed his confidence in Italian and European health authorities, both of which say it is safe to use.

Italy has nevertheless suspended the use of one batch of the vaccine.

Schools, restaurants, shops and museums will close across most of Italy on Monday, a year after it became the first European country to face a major outbreak.


Most regions -- including those containing Rome and Milan -- become high-risk red zones, with all residents told to stay home except for work, health or other essential reasons.

The restrictions cover 48 million people and will last until Easter -- then during the Easter weekend of April 3-5, the whole of Italy will become a red zone.

Prime Minister Mario Draghi said on Friday that the surge in infections was fuelled by the new, more contagious variants.

Italy has to date suffered more than 101,000 deaths since the start of the pandemic.


Join the conversation in our comments section below. Share your own views and experience and if you have a question or suggestion for our journalists then email us at [email protected].
Please keep comments civil, constructive and on topic – and make sure to read our terms of use before getting involved.

Please log in to leave a comment.

See Also