Sun, 09 Aug 2020

ROME, July 14 (Xinhua) -- The Italian government will extend existing COVID-19 containment measures through July 31, Health Minister Roberto Speranza told both houses of parliament on Tuesday.

These measures include a ban on the "entry and transit in Italy of anyone who has spent time in or transited through Armenia, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Brazil, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Chile, Kuwait, North Macedonia, Moldova, Oman, Panama, Peru and the Dominican Republic," Speranza said.

"Direct and indirect flights to and from these countries will be suspended," Speranza said, adding that "we will constantly update this list based on the evolution of the (epidemiological) data."

"We also confirm a 14-day quarantine for all arrivals from non-European Union and non-Schengen countries," Speranza continued.

"The match has not been won, it is still being played," he said, adding "we must not underestimate an extremely worrisome international situation because on a global level, the circulation of the virus is accelerating."

Italy, said Speranza, "has not yet reached a safe harbor" and this is shown by the "several active hotbeds" which have driven the Rt index (the transmission rate of the virus) above 1 in five of Italy's 20 regions.

Besides travel bans, the containment measures include mandatory use of masks in enclosed spaces, social distancing, penal sanctions for whoever violates their quarantine, and stricter checks at airports, ports, and border crossings, Speranza said.

He added that "particular attention is focused on the arrivals (of undocumented migrants) on our shores, with strict health checks and mandatory quarantine for everyone who arrives."

Italy has seen an increase in the number of migrant arrivals on its southern coasts, with many of them testing positive for the novel coronavirus.

It has sparked an outcry among local residents and regional leaders, who have threatened to shut down their coasts unless the central government steps in to help them.

Speranza said he has written to European health authorities about the issue of migrants reaching Italy's southern coasts, which form part of the southern border of the European Union.

Separately, the Italian government led by Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte is reportedly assessing whether to extend the six-month national state of emergency for another six months.

The current state of emergency was declared on Jan. 31.

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