Phase two: Italy considers how to move on after coronavirus peak

Nearly a month after a nationwide lockdown was implemented to prevent the spread of the virus that was ravaging through Italy’s north, there are government discussions and public debate about moving to “phase two” – a period during which citizens will have to learn to live with the virus and one which could risk another outbreak.

Italy is in the unfortunate position of being two to three weeks ahead of other European countries in fighting the coronavirus pandemic.
As the country with the most fatalities – more than 17,000 recorded coronavirus deaths, Italy’s next moves will be closely watched.

The country has been reviewing its lockdown measures every two weeks by presidential decree; the next time they will be revisited will be April 13.
As the country with the most fatalities – more than 17,000 recorded coronavirus deaths, Italy’s next moves will be closely watched.

The country has been reviewing its lockdown measures every two weeks by presidential decree; the next time they will be revisited will be April 13.
While figures suggest that the measures have achieved some level of success in slowing the rate of infection, it is likely they will remain in place over the coming Easter period, usually a time for gathering and celebration.

More than 135,000 people in Italy are reported to have contracted coronavirus, according to Johns Hopkins University a number that is known to be only the “tip of the iceberg”.

The number of victims is also believed to be unreliable as it does not indicate the actual cause of death for those who tested positive, or include those who died at home or in care homes without being tested.

The government has yet to announce any dates or official measures relating to the second phase, but discussions have so far focused on reopening some factories and businesses where workers can maintain social distancing.

Easing some restrictions on citizens’ movement is also being considered.

“We are working on hypotheses for politicians to take into account,” Roberto Bernabei, who is part of the scientific-technical committee advising the government, said. “Options that are credible and, as far as possible, supported by scientific analysis.”
‘Comforting data’

Early signs that Italy’s outbreak was stabilising began to appear last week.

The Italian civil protection agency said the number of new infections had begun to decrease. But the daily recorded death toll remains high, 604 on Tuesday.

“Comforting data include the number of people who are admitted to hospital, which gives us a more accurate indication of how the epidemic is evolving compared with other data,” Matteo Villa, who has been crunching statistics for the Italian Institute for International Political Studies, told Al Jazeera.

“The number of people admitted to hospital has stopped growing in nearly all regions [of Italy], despite them having started the lockdown at different stages of the epidemic,” Villa said, adding that this was a sign that the lockdown measures have worked.

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