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COVID-19

Italy rules out new lockdown as coronavirus cases rise

Italy rules out new lockdown as coronavirus cases rise
epa08619482 Romans and tourists have returned to visit the popular flea popular market at Porta Portese in Rome, Italy, 23 August 2020. After the closure due to the measures taken by the Government, the famous trading and shopping market reopens after a few months. EPA-EFE/MASSIMO PERCOSSI

ROME, Aug 23 (Reuters) - The Italian government is not considering new lockdown to curb coronavirus infections, Health Minister Roberto Speranza said in a newspaper interview on Sunday, despite a steady rise in new cases over the past month.

Italy, one of Europe’s worst-hit countries with more than 35,000 deaths, on Saturday reported 1,071 new coronavirus infections, exceeding 1,000 cases in a day for the first time since the government eased its rigid lockdown measures in May.

“We will not have a new lockdown,” Speranza told daily newspaper La Stampa, saying the current situation cannot be compared to February and March, when the disease was spreading out of control and it was difficult to track and isolate infected people.

“I am optimistic, although prudent. Our national health service has become much stronger.”

Speranza added that Italy has doubled the number of beds in intensive care units.

The number of new infections remains considerably lower than those registered in Spain and France and daily death tolls are low.

In a separate interview with newspaper Corriere della Sera, Health Undersecretary Sandra Zampa said she was convinced Italy would not impose a nationwide lockdown but did not rule out restrictions on territories where there are spikes in infection numbers.

(Reporting by Angelo Amante Editing by David Goodman)

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