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Covid-19 pandemic: Italy to shut shops and schools amid infection spike

745ng | March 13, 2021

Shops, restaurants and schools will be closed across most of Italy on Monday, with PM Mario Draghi warning of a “new wave” of the coronavirus outbreak.

For three days over Easter, 3-5 April, there will be a total shutdown.

Italy, which one year ago imposed one of the first national lockdowns, is once again struggling to contain the rapid spread of infections.

The country has reported more than 100,000 Covid-related deaths, Europe’s second-highest tally after the UK.

Italy’s vaccination campaign has been hit by delays, as has been seen elsewhere in the European Union.

Anglo-Swedish drug company AstraZeneca has announced a further shortfall in the amount of its vaccine it can supply to the European Union, blaming export restrictions imposed by some countries. It did not elaborate.

In January, it announced a large cut in the 100m doses it had originally expected to deliver to the EU by March, sparking a public spat with European Commission.

Last week the government in Rome blocked the export of 250,000 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine to Australia to address shortfalls of vaccines.

Elsewhere, Bulgaria, Denmark and Norway have all paused the use of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine over fears it causes blood clots.

The World Health Organization said on Friday there was no indication this was true, stressing that countries should not stop using the vaccine.

From Monday, schools, shops and restaurants will shut in more than half of Italy, including the two most populous regions containing Rome and Milan.

Residents will be required to stay at home except for work, health or other essential reasons.

A man closes a sandwich bar in Rome, Italy. Photo: 12 March 2021

The extra restrictions would last until Easter, Mr Draghi’s office said, and over the Easter weekend the whole country would be turned into the high-risk “red zone”.

“I’m aware that today’s restrictions will have consequences on the education of your children, on the economy and on everyone’s mental health,” Mr Draghi said.

“But they’re necessary to avoid a worsening of the situation that would require even stricter measures.”

Cases have been rising across Italy for the past six weeks, exceeding 25,000 a day.

Written by 745ng

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