Italy is discussing an extension of lockdown measures into May as European countries fight to contain the spread of the coronavirus, even as the outbreak shows signs of slowing.
Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte’s government may extend restrictions through the May 1 holiday weekend, with a gradual opening of the country from May 4, Italian newspapers including La Stampa reported on Tuesday. The controls, now in their fourth week, are currently in place till the end of this week.
One alternative under discussion calls for some measures to be relaxed on April 18, with other restrictions remaining in place until May 4, La Stampa said.
Health Minister Roberto Speranza confirmed on Monday that the government will extend current containment measures until at least Easter, even as the country reported the smallest number of new coronavirus cases in almost two weeks.
Conte is under pressure to keep the economy going as industry and commerce has ground to a halt. Police have been deployed on the streets of Sicily’s capital, Palermo, amid reports gangs are using social media to plot attacks on stores. Preventing unrest in the underdeveloped south is now Rome’s top priority, government officials said.
The World Health Organization called on governments to continue their efforts to stem the spread of the deadly disease, saying measures to limit physical contact between people are showing signs of stabilization in Europe.
Mike Ryan, head of health emergencies at the WHO, said Monday that “our fervent hope” is that Italy and Spain are approaching a peak, adding that the pandemic won’t subside on its own. He urged countries to step up efforts to find and isolate patients, adding that the pandemic won’t subside on its own.
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