Italy EXTENDS coronavirus lockdown as nation sees devastating spike in cases

Italy was due to end its nationwide lockdown on Friday. However, as cases in Italy continue to rise, the decision was made to prolong the restrictions.

Health Minister Roberto Speranza announced the move in a statement.

He said: “The evaluation was to extend all containment measures at least until Easter.

“The government will move in this direction.”

The Health Ministry did not give a date for the new end of the lockdown, but said it would be in a law the government would propose.

Italy has now been under lockdown for three weeks.

Most shops, bars and restaurants are now shut and people have been forbidden from leaving their homes for all but non-essential needs.

Italy, is the world’s hardest hit country in terms of number of deaths according to national statistics.

The country accounts for more than a third of all global fatalities.

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At the time of writing the death toll in the country has risen to 11,591 since the outbreak emerged in northern regions on February 21.

There are now 101,739 cases.

The Civil Protection Agency have said said the death toll has risen by 812 in the last 24 hours.

This reverses the two days of declines.

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However, the number of new cases rose by just 4,050, the lowest increase since March 17, reaching a total of 101,739.

Yet the decline in the rise of new infections may be partly explained by a reduction in the number of tests, which were the fewest for six days.

Now, the governor of the southern region of Puglia has said the restrictions should remain in place for even longer.

On Saturday the governor warned the restrictions should continue until May.

Lombardy President Attilio Fontana said the unprecedented curbs on movement, gatherings and business activity were preventing an exponential rise in the number of cases, and needed to be kept in place.

“We’re on the right track, we’re maintaining a (chart) line that’s not uphill, but it’s not downhill either,” he said.

Meanwhile, in the UK Boris Johnson’s attempts to role out a programme of mass coronavirus testing have suffered a major setback, after testing kits were found to be contaminated with COVID-19.

Number 10 ordered thousands of kits from private enterprises, including from a Luxembourg company, Eurofins.

However, on Monday, Eurofins sent an email to government laboratories, warning that a key component had been contaminated with the coronavirus, according to the Daily Telegraph.

As a result, laboratories have been told that there will be an unavoidable delay to the new testing programme.

The spokeman for Eurofins said: “In rare occasions, delays in some orders may occur if based on Eurofins Genomics stringent quality and environmental control procedures, manufacturing of a product may not meet the quality or purity criteria set by Eurofins Genomics.

“We are aware that contaminations of the nature you mentioned have been observed by several primers and probes manufacturers around the world after they produced SARS-COV2 positive controls. Those initial problems can be easily resolved by proper cleaning and production segregation procedures.”

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