Italy to extend coronavirus lockdown measures to 13 April

(Update 1: adds latest figures in grafs 6,7,8,9)

Rome, Apr 1 (efe-epa).- Italian health minister Roberto Speranza said Wednesday that the country’s coronavirus lockdown measures will be extended until 13 April.

He said during an appearance in parliament that the restrictions will be imposed until at least the end of Easter festivities.

“The government’s decision will be to extend until April 13 all the measures to limit the activities and movement of people,” Speranza said.

Italian authorities had previously ordered the isolation of citizens and closure of non-essential activities until 3 April.

The Mediterranean country has reported the highest number of infections in Europe and second-worst in the world after the United States since Covid-19 emerged in China in December.

The country’s Civil Protection agency on Wednesday reported 2,937 cases in the last 24 hours, while 727 coronavirus patients died in that period, bringing the death toll to 13,115.

At least 110,574 cases have been detected since the outbreak began in Italy, of which roughly 80,500 are still active.

There were currently 28.403 in hospital and 4,035 in ICU, according to the agency.

At least 30 Italian patients were taken to Germany for treatment, authorities said.

Health officials on Tuesday said the curve of fresh infections may have reached its peak and entered a flat phase that could last several days before it begins to descend.

Speranza said it was essential not to make mistakes or fall into “easy optimism” because “there is a risk of compromising the sacrifices made so far”.

“The first positive signs should not be confused as a sign that the alarm has ceased,” he added.

“Experts say that we are on the right track and that the drastic measures taken are beginning to pay off,” Speranza continued.

“But it would be an unforgivable mistake to confuse this first result with a definitive defeat of Covid-19, it is a long battle and we must not let our guard down.”

The health minister also warned that without a vaccine the fight against the virus will never be won and that “for a short period we will have to learn how to manage this transition phase and avoid the explosion of new outbreaks”.

“Scientific research will be decisive in our battle to beat this virus,” he added.

He urged the country to “take strategic investment in health as the main theme of the national restart”.

Speranza said “this is not the time for division” and that “a unified political climate is needed to keep the country together at a very difficult time”.

“Never before have the old geopolitical disputes seemed outdated. It is time for solidarity, no one is saved alone,” he added.

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