Heathrow show off new coronavirus safety measures
Mario Draghi, the prime minister, warned the country is facing a “new wave” of the virus. In response, Italy has announced a total national shutdown over the Easter period from April 3 to 5.
Schools, restaurants and non-essential shops will also be shut for more than half the country from Monday including the Roma and Milan regions.
Those who can are being told to work from home in these areas.
More than 25,000 coronavirus cases are now being detected in Italy each day.
Announcing the new measures Mr Draghi said: “I’m aware that today’s restrictions will have consequences on the education of your children, on the economy and on everyone’s mental health.
More than 25,000 coronavirus cases are being detected in Italy each day
Mario Draghi has announced new coronavirus restrictions for Italy
“But they’re necessary to avoid a worsening of the situation that would require even stricter measures.”
Separately the Italian government announced it will continue using the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine despite withdrawing one batch following three unusual deaths.
Authorities decided to withdraw 500,000 jabs following two deaths in Sicily and one in Trapani.
However, the Italian Medicines Agency emphasised the decision had been taken “as a precaution” adding it had not “established any causal link between the administration of the vaccine and such events”.
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“I’m aware that today’s restrictions will have consequences”
In Sicily, a state police inspector and naval non-commissioned officer died after being vaccinated, though no link has been proven.
Similarly, a 54-year-old member of Italy’s Carabinieri, a paramilitary police force, died after receiving a jab in Trapani.
Thus far Italian investigators have found “no causal link” between the deaths and vaccinations and the Oxford jab will continue being administered.
This position was backed by the European Medicines Agency which said: “The benefits of the vaccine continue to outweigh the risks and therefore it can continue to be administered while investigations into cases of thromboembolic [blood clot] events are underway.”
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“The benefits of the vaccine continue to outweigh the risks”
The EU’s vaccination programme has fallen dramatically behind the UK’s
However, the deaths have caused significant public concern in Italy with reports some citizens have been cancelling vaccinations.
Speaking to the Huffington Post a source at a vaccination centre in Catanzaro, in southern Italy, said: “Vulnerable patients ask to be reassured about the administration of the vaccine, and some others request for cancellation.
“We do not know how many people will actually turn up for inoculations tomorrow.”
Norway, Denmark and Bulgaria have all stopped administering the Oxford jab.
More than 100,000 Italians have died from the coronavirus pandemic
The World Health Organisation on Friday insisted there is no evidence it causes blood clots and urged countries to continue their vaccination programmes.
Data from England and Scotland shows the Oxford vaccine is both safe and effective at reducing deaths and hospitalisations from coronavirus amongst all age groups.
Italy has recorded over 100,000 coronavirus deaths, the only country in Europe other than the UK to have done so.
Last week Italy blocked a shipment of 250,000 Oxford vaccines that were destined for Australia from leaving the country.
Italy blocked 250,000 vaccine exports to Australia
The European Union gave member states the power to block exports after outrage at its sluggish jab rollout.
Australia has asked the European Commission to review the decision.
AstraZeneca became locked in a row with the EU in January after the British-Swedish company, which produces the Oxford vaccine, revealed it would be unable to provide the bloc with as many jabs as hoped this spring.
Additional reporting by Maria Ortega.