Covid alarm: Europe on high alert as Italy enters new lockdown to curb spread

Grant Shapps reacts to lockdown pledge made in January

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Some regions in the southern European nation face draconian restrictions such as school closures as of today. Rome and Milan are among the country’s biggest cities affected by new rules, which will apply to three-quarters of the population.

The measures were imposed by Italian Prime minister Mario Draghi, who warned the nation is facing a “new wave” of the pathogen.

Foreign travel into Italy will also be banned until early April, the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) has advised.

In a statement, the FCDO wrote: “From March 6 until April 6, entry into Italy is only permitted to residents or those with absolute necessity including urgent work, health needs or study requirements.”

Those who need to travel to Italy will have to comply with a series of strict measures, including a mandatory quarantine.

The FCDO added: “Until April 6, those wishing to fly must present the airline with a negative COVID-19 rapid antigenic or molecular swab test taken no more than 72 hours before entry into Italy.

“You must also take a COVID-19 rapid antigenic or molecular swab test within 48 hours of entering Italy – arrivals by air from the UK will take this test at the airport.

“Whatever the result of the two swab tests, those arriving in Italy from the UK must also report to their local health authorities on arrival and self-isolate for 14 days.”

The news comes after French hospitals began to struggle coping with the coronavirus admissions.

Hospitals in the Paris region have allegedly become overwhelmed, forcing ICU doctors to debate when to discharge patients being treated.

An ICU doctor at Bry-Sur-Marne Hospital, Serge Carriera told France 24 how healthcare professionals will decide how to free up beds if the situation becomes unbearable.

He said: “Our backup plan is to discharge patients earlier than planned.

“It’s not perfect but it’s the only solution we have.”

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The director of Paris’ public hospitals has appealed for the French Government to create a strategy to end the pressure in emergency departments.

Martin Hirsh said: “If a lockdown isn’t possible, then we need other solutions.

“Not having a plan to slow this down is simply not an option.”

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