"What Christmas will be like depends on what we decide now" says government's covid-19 consultant.
Italy should apply immediate targeted local lockdowns to curb the steady rise in covid-19 cases in recent weeks, according to Prof. Walter Ricciardi, the coronavirus advisor to the Italian health ministry.
Some targeted lockdown measures should be taken "immediately" - Ricciardi said on RAI3 television programme Agora - "We absolutely must not wait until Christmas."
"What Christmas will be like depends on what we decide now," he said, adding that if the "right" measures are taken "promptly, adequately, proportionately" Italians will be able to enjoy an "almost normal" Christmas.
He warned however: "If we delay, we will see an exponential increase in cases in the coming weeks, especially in some areas of the country, and then we will have to make very hard decisions later, but then it will take much longer."
Ricciardi, a lecturer in hygiene at Rome's Sacro Cuore University, said: "I wouldn't talk about Lombardy, but for example Milan. I wouldn't talk about Campania, but I would talk of Naples and some metropolitan areas, I would start to worry about Rome."
Ricciardi's comments came a few hours before Italy's latest covid-19 figures were released by the health ministry on the evening of 19 October.
The number of new coronavirus cases registered in Italy over the previous 24 hours fell to 9,338, down from a record high of 11,705 on Sunday, in the first fall in a week.
However there were 98,862 swab tests taken, significantly fewer than the 146,000 tests on Sunday. There were also 73 new coronavirus-related deaths recorded on 19 October, up from 69 the day before.
Italian premier Giuseppe Conte announced a further tightening of measures on Sunday night however the restrictions were much less severe than many had expected.
For official data relating to the covid-19 situation in Italy see the health ministry website.
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