Rome, Oct 24 Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has urged vigilance and said that all steps should be taken to avert a second national lockdown, as the country has reported a recent spike in the number of new coronavirus cases.
"I share the growing concern about the rise in infections these days throughout Europe and in Italy," Conte said on Friday while virtually addressing the Work Festival 2020, an event organized by the National Council of Labor Consultants.
He explained Italy was still "in the pandemic" and should make the most of the experience it painfully gained in spring namely the worst months that followed the first outbreak of the virus here.
He said the goal was to "contain the infection, and avoid a halt of production and working activities, as well as the closure of schools and public offices".
"We must avert a second generalized lockdown, and in order to do so we must be vigilant and ready to intervene any time, wherever is necessary," Conte stressed.
The Prime Mnister's remarks came as the country registered 19,143 new cases (including 16,700 new active infections) on Friday, a new record high.
With this, the overall caseload grew to 484,869, while the death toll stood at 37,059.
The increasing trend in the pandemic has become particularly worrying in the last two weeks, with daily increases ranging between some 5,300 cases on October 9 and the new record exceeding 19,000 on Friday.
The cabinet has so far implemented restrictive measures, and its last decree on October 13 banned private parties, lingering outside bars, clubs, and stores, and food and drinks service to people not sitting at tables by 6 p.m.
Some regional governments have also implemented stricter measures, including the closure of bars and restaurants by 11 p.m. or 12 midnight, and a night curfew in northern Lombardy (with Milan as its capital), central Lazio surrounding Rome, and southern Campania.
Altogether, the three regions count for over 21.7 million people (out of a total population of 60 million in the country).
Yet, some 100 scientists on Friday appealed for further steps.
In a letter sent to Conte and President Sergio Mattarella, and quoted by all major dailies online, the researchers and university professors called for "drastic measures in the next two-three days" in order to slow down the current rate of virus spreading.
They warned the country must avoid "the numbers of the infection to inevitably arrive to produce several hundred deaths per day in the next three weeks" a perspective they deemed likely without further restrictions.
They did not ask for another national lockdown, but called for "more stringent and effective measures".
( With inputs from IANS )
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