Italy, hitting Covid peak, extends lockdown to Easter

Piazza Navona during lockdown. PHOTO CREDIT: ERIC VANDEVILLE

 ROME –  Italian Health Minister Roberto Speranza has said quarantine restrictions in force in the peninsula will be extended to April 13 despite the country having hit a peak with the infection rate down to 4 percent and fewer people in intensive care. The head of the Higher Institute for Health Silvio Brusaferro said the country must exercise caution as deaths were still high with 837 more people dying Monday while there were 4053 new cases taking the total to 77,635 in all.

 “The plateau has been reached but the decrease will start in a few days only,” he said. The infection rate in worst-hit Lombardy was down to 2.5 percent. The interior ministry on Monday issued a statement saying that children are allowed to take walks near home accompanied by one parent only and jogging near home also is allowed, an evident relaxation of the restrictions that the regional governments of Lombardy and Campania said they would not implement.

 Speranza told the Senate the country must be careful not to lower its guard against the virus and that re-opening the country will be “gradual and prudent.”

 “We have to plan for tomorrow. We are already doing so. But to get the timing wrong or anticipate certain moves would prejeudice the work done so far.”