Italy heads towards lockdown after breaking daily caseload record

Virginia Hebrero

Rome, Oct 30 (efe-epa).- Italy, which broke its own record for new coronavirus infections after reporting more than 31,000 cases on Friday, is heading towards a return to lockdown, as partial restrictions imposed in the past few weeks have failed to stem the second wave of the pandemic in the country.

The past week has shown that the rapid rate of transmission is becoming more and more uncontrollable, health officials warned, and contact tracing methods have been overwhelmed, further hampering efforts at containing the virus.

Prime minister Giuseppe Conte has been keen to avoid a new general confinement like the one in spring, but the partial measures – including nightly curfews and closures of bars, restaurants, gyms, cinemas and theaters – imposed since the beginning of this second wave have been unable to flatten the upward curve of contagion.

“Italy is heading towards a type 4 scenario in the Covid crisis, with a rapid worsening of the situation,” said the Superior Institute of Health (ISS) in its weekly report.

There are 11 regions considered high risk for uncontrolled transmission, and four – Calabria, Emilia Romagna, Lombardy and Piedmont – in addition to the autonomous province of Bolzano, which are already in scenario 4.

“Measures are required that favor a drastic reduction in physical interactions between people and that can relieve the pressure on health systems, including restrictions on non-essential activities and mobility, as well as the implementation of other planned measures,” said the head of the ISS, Silvio Brusaferro.

Italian media reports are rife with rumors that the current measures, which expire on November 9, will be toughened along the lines of restrictions that took effect on Friday in France.

These imply a partial lockdown, with schools and factories remaining open but all non-essential shops being forced to close.

With the infection curve showing no signs of flattening, most observers expect Conte to sign a new decree next week.

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