As COVID-19 deaths steady, Italy’s health minister eyes next phase
MILAN: Italy’s health minister outlined plans on Sunday for broader testing and beefed-up health services as part of a package of measures that would follow a future easing of the country’s coronavirus lockdown.
Roberto Speranza said it was too early to say when Italy would be able to lift the measures imposed across the country on March 9, when it became the first country in Europe to impose a general lockdown to slow the spread of the virus.
With more than 15,000 dead, Italy has the world’s highest death toll from disease, accounting on its own for almost a quarter of all deaths globally. But the government is also grappling with the economic devastation caused by the sudden halt to business across the country.
“There are difficult months ahead. Our task is to create the conditions to live with the virus,” at least until a vaccine is developed, he told the daily La Repubblica newspaper, adding that some social distancing measures would also have to remain.
The smallest daily rise in COVID-19 deaths for nearly two weeks on Saturday and the first fall of the number of patients in intensive care have fed hopes that the epidemic may have reached a peak in Italy and focused attention on the next phase in the crisis.
The national lockdown, strictly limiting people’s movements and freezing on all non-essential economic activity, will officially last until at least April 13 but it is widely expected to be extended. – Reuters