Italy’s PM questioned by prosecutors over Covid-19 health crisis

By Gonzalo Sánchez

Rome, Jun 12 (efe-epa).- Italy’s prime minister Giuseppe Conte on Friday faced questioning from prosecutors over his handling of the coronavirus health crisis.

The prosecutors from Northern Italy want to know why he did not place two towns near the city of Bergamo, one of the worst-hit by the pandemic, in a so-called red zone earlier.

Prosecutor Maria Cristina Rota traveled from Bergamo to Rome early Friday where she questioned Conte for around three hours in the Chigi Palace.

Luciana Lamorgese, the interior minister, and Roberto Speranza, the health minister, were also to be questioned.

The central government, a coalition comprising the Five Star Movement and center-left parties, and the regional government in Lombardy, where Bergamo is located and which is currently in the hands of the far-right League Party, both point the finger at each other as responsible for the handling of the crisis in the early stages of the outbreak.

The details of Conte’s testimony have yet to be made public.

“What I have to say to the prosecutors I will say to them,” he told the press two days ago.

“I will duly inform them to the best of my knowledge. I’m not worried about anything.”

Prosecutors want to clarify why authorities did not isolate several regions of Bergamo province as soon as the first Covid-19 cases were detected.

Lombardy, home of the regional capital Milian, was the worst-affected region in Italy with almost 91,000 of the 236,000 Covid-19 cases detected nationwide and 16,000 out of 34,000 deaths.

There have been around 2,800 deaths recorded in Bergamo province but the city hall puts that figure at closer to 6,000, given that many suspected Covid-19 patients were not tested before death.

Italian authorities first detected coronavirus in the Lombardy city of Codogno on 21 February. A day later the national government isolated 11 hotspots, 10 villages in Lombardy and one in Veneto.

However, the industrial towns of Nembro and Alzano, which would soon become epicenters, did not feature on that list.

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