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Coronavirus Four more deaths in Italy, Conte criticizes hospital

UNITED STATES (OBSERVATORY NEWS) — Italian authorities announced on Tuesday four additional deaths linked to the coronavirus, the presence of which has spread beyond Lombardy and Veneto, the two regions most affected by the epidemic, including Tuscany and Sicily.

Meeting in Rome, the health ministers of the European countries bordering Italy have ruled out closing their borders with the country.

“We have agreed to leave the borders open. Closing the borders would be a disproportionate and ineffective measure at this stage,” said Italian Minister Roberto Speranza.

Participating in this meeting, his French counterpart, Olivier Véran, clarified that “at this stage there is no reason to cancel a priori major public events, whether of a sporting or cultural nature”.

“But we allow ourselves the possibility, on a case-by-case basis, to look at each situation,” he added to the press. In football, Olympique Lyonnais will host Juventus Turin on Wednesday as part of the knockout stages of the Champions League.

“At the time I am talking to you, there is no reason to consider the cancellation of this match,” he said later on BFMTV.

Since an outbreak of cases at the end of last week, Italy is by far the European country most affected by the coronavirus which appeared last December in Wuhan, in central China.

In the late afternoon, a death was reported in Veneto by regional authorities, who indicate that it is a 76-year-old woman who lived in Treviso.

The head of the Italian Civil Protection agency had previously announced three additional deaths. Angelo Borrelli clarified that they were octogenarians who lived in Lombardy, the region in the north of the country most affected by the epidemic.

Italy is therefore at eleven deaths and, at the last score, 322 confirmed cases were registered by the authorities, against 229 the day before. In detail, the health authorities count 240 in Lombardy, 43 in Veneto, 26 in Emilia-Romagna, three in Piedmont, three in Lazio (the region of Rome), three in Sicily, two in Tuscany, one in Liguria and one in the autonomous province of Bolzano.

Council President Giuseppe Conte hinted that flaws in the organization of a hospital in Lombardy may have aggravated the current health crisis.

The head of government said the establishment, which he did not identify, may have “contributed to the spread”. He added that he could consider withdrawing certain powers from the regions over health issues, angering the far-right League, which runs Lombardy as well as Veneto.

The President of the Chamber of Deputies and member of the League Riccardo Molinari denounced “almost fascist” remarks by the President of the Council.

The governor of Lombardy, Attilio Fontana, denounced for his part a “strategy of despair” on the part of Giuseppe Conte who tries to make him forget the dysfunctions at the head of the government.

Italian Vice Minister of Economy Laura Castelli said Tuesday that Rome could ask the European Union to be flexible in meeting its budgetary targets, depending on the impact of the epidemic.

Lombardy and Veneto, which together represent around a third of Italy’s GDP and half of the country’s exports, form the industrial heart of the national economy. However, Italy is already on the brink of recession and displays high public debt, the largest in the euro zone after Greece.

Giuseppe Conte believes that the impact of this health crisis could turn out to be “very strong”, even if he still hopes for a contagion soon under control in the light of the measures taken by his government.

“I cannot say that I am not worried (…) but I am convinced that we will have a containment effect in the coming days”, said the president of the Italian Council to Sky TG.

The tourism sector, which accounts for around 13% of GDP, fears a fall in bookings due to the restrictive measures imposed on the organization of public events.

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