Coronavirus cases in Italy rose by 2,249 to 12,839 on Thursday, less than 24 hours after the Italian Government expanded quarantine measures to include the closure of a large number of shops. Despite demands from Rome to stay at home as much as possible and limit all travel to essential trips, several people have been fined and reported for breaking lockdown rules. Giovanni Di Perri from the Ospedale Amedeo di Savoia of Turin, northern Italy, warned ignoring the ban could result in “thousands of deaths” across the peninsula as he spoke to Express.co.uk earlier this week.
Prof Di Perri, whose hospital is at the forefront in treating COVID-19 cases in the Piedmont region, said: “It’s very simple. At this moment in Italy there is a mortality rate of six percent.
“Let’s say it is overestimated because sampling is a heterogeneous sampling. In the sense that we do not know the denominator of the infected.
“But the risk is to make thousands of deaths, it is very simple.”
Prof Di Perri, who also serves as the Head of the Department of Clinical Infectious Diseases at the University of Turin, suggested the estimate is based on the progression of the deadly virus in the original hotbed of Wuhan, located in the Hubei region of China.
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He continued: “Just look at what happened in the province of Hubei, where there are more or less the same inhabitants of Italy and where, at the moment, they have about 68,000 cases and have had almost 3,000 deaths and have a percentage much less than us at the moment.”
The number of cases recorded in China at the time of writing accounted for 80,815 of the 138,611 cases worldwide.
Of those infected with COVID-19 since the start of the outbreak in December, 5,083 people died – 1,016 of the victims died in Italy.
Despite the complete lockdown ordered on Monday, Italian newspapers reported on have several cases of people having been fined or arrested after Police found them travelling around the country without a note certifying their travel was essential.
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Prof Di Perri continued: “The sooner these things are done, the better they are considering their purpose and what are the obstacles to obtaining the desired results.
“Let me explain better – the reduction of the infections is easier to obtain if the number of infected people circulating is reduced.
“In my opinion, this type of measure is particularly favourable for the regions that at the moment have not been facing the pressure that Lombardy, Veneto and Piedmont are undergoing.
“The problem beyond the procedures, of the type of measure, is linked to people taking responsibility and being disciplined.”
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He added: “I have to tell the truth, I still see people around shaking hands, meeting, laughing – they didn’t understand that nobody should be out in the streets.
“You don’t have to meet anyone, reduce meetings to the bare minimum. This from the top of Italy to Capo Passero.
“We need to understand why the sooner you do it, the better you do it, and the earlier you get out of this phase.”
Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte on Wednesday ordered all bar non-essential shops like pharmacies and supermarkets to shut down, and said factories will only be allowed to stay open if the necessary health and safety measures are in place to protect employees.
Italy has found itself increasingly sealed off as other countries sought to keep infections contained.
Malta and Spain announced a ban on air traffic from Italy, while British Airways and Air Canada suspended all Italy flights.
Britain, Ireland, Hong Kong and Germany strengthened travel advisories and urged their citizens to leave and even the Vatican erected a new barricade at the edge of St Peter’s Square.
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