Coronavirus: Italy to extend lockdown, says Conte

Conte says Italy's anti-Coronavirus measures to be extended.

Italy's quarantine measures and school closures are to be extended, Italian premier Giuseppe Conte said in an interview with Italy's newspaper of record Corriere della Sera.

The country's strict nationwide quarantine measures "can only be extended" said Conte, adding that: "We have avoided the collapse of the system, the restrictive measures are working, and it is obvious that when we reach a peak and the contagion will start to decrease, at least in percentage terms, we hope in a few days, we will not be able to return immediately to life as before."

Italy's nationwide shutdown of 'non-essential' shops and businesses, as well as a ban on public gatherings, has been in place since 10 March and is due to expire on 25 March, while measures closing the country's schools and universities are currently in place until 3 April.

No end date for the quarantine measures was given and the premier told Corriere della Sera that he was currently unable to say anything more except that: "it is clear that the measures we have taken, both those which have closed much of the country's corporate and individual activities, and those affecting the schools, can only be extended beyond the deadline."

Conte also underlined the importance of staying at home, calling for "common sense", and not ruling out the introduction of stricter measures if people do not act responsibly.

On 18 March Italy reported the highest one-day death toll of any country affected by the Covid-19 pandemic: 475 deaths.