Italy’s COVID-19 situation “among best in Europe”: Health Minister

Italy’s COVID-19 situation is among the best in the European Union (EU) despite a recent rise in new infections, Health Minister Roberto Speranza told the Senate in his report on the pandemic.

“The European epidemiological picture has significantly deteriorated since my last speech here before you, on August 10,” Speranza said on Wednesday, Xinhua news agency reported.

He cited new data from the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), saying Italy’s incidence of the virus per 100,000 inhabitants stands at 23 now, lower than some other European countries.

In Italy, Speranza said, “the real news is the extremely marked decrease” in the average age of the newly infected, to 29 years.

Italy’s younger generation has become the “tool of diffusion of the virus” and “this is why we must ask our young people to give us a hand” with the use of masks, social distancing, and hand hygiene, the health minister said.

Speranza added that at the next meeting of EU health ministers, the Italian government will propose “a mechanism of reciprocity” so that coronavirus testing can be carried in all the main European airports.

With regards to schools, Speranza promised that “all our schools will reopen in September, and they will do so safely.”

The government, he said, has made “unprecedented direct investments of 2.9 billion euros,” hired 97,000 new teachers, provided 11 million free surgical masks a day to students and teachers alike, and delivered 2.4 million new, single-seat desks so pupils can maintain social distancing in class.

The issue of how to run an educational system safely in the COVID-era “is a planetary one,” Speranza said, reminding senators that due to the pandemic “190 countries around the world have had to shut down their schools, affecting 1.6 billion students”.