Europe

Italy to extend coronavirus lockdown beyond April 3

ROME (REUTERS) – Italy’s government will “inevitably” extend beyond April 3 the containment measures it had approved to stem the coronavirus outbreak in the country, the regional affairs minister said on Sunday (March 29).

Italy has suffered the most deaths from the virus epidemic and was the first Western country to introduce severe restrictions on movement after uncovering the outbreak just over five weeks ago.

The government has since increasingly tightened them and these were initially expected to be softened from next Friday.

“The measures that were due on April 3 will inevitably be extended,” Francesco Boccia said in an interview with SkyTG24.

He added that the timings would be decided by the Prime Minister and the cabinet “on the grounds of the data of the scientific community” advising his government.

“I think that it would be inappropriate and irresponsible to talk of re-opening (schools, stores and production sites),” Boccia said.

The death toll in the northern region of Lombardy, the epicentre of Italy’s contagion, has risen by around 416 in a day to some 6,360, a source familiar with the data said on Sunday.

The daily deaths were down sharply from Saturday’s tally of 542, which was the second largest since the outbreak first emerged just over 5 weeks ago.

The number of cases in the region, which includes the country’s financial capital Milan, increased by some 1,592 to approximately 41,007, the source said.

Italy’s death toll nationwide surged past 10,000 on Saturday. Officials said another 889 people died in the 24 hours to Saturday, the second-highest daily tally since the epidemic emerged on Feb 21.

Confirmed cases rose by about 6,000 to 92,472, the second-highest number of cases in the world behind the United States.

Italy’s sports minister said on Sunday he would propose banning all sports events, including soccer matches, for the whole of April.

Health Minister Roberto Speranza asked Italians on Sunday not to “let the guard down now.” “We would cancel out all the efforts made until now to rein in contagion. The sacrifices of the last weeks are serious,” he told newspaper Corriere della Sera in an interview.

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