Covid-19 in Italy: Masks set to be obligatory outdoors in Rome amid rise in cases

Order to wear masks outdoors in Rome and across Lazio region expected before weekend amid rise in covid-19 cases in Italy.

The Lazio region, which includes Rome, is set to introduce an order obliging people to wear face masks in public, including outdoors, according to reports from Italian news agency ANSA and other media outlets.

The measure, which has yet to be confirmed but is expected to come into force before this weekend, comes as covid-19 cases in the Lazio region increase in recent days.

"Wearing masks outdoors is one of the options we are considering" - Lazio governor Nicola Zingaretti told Adnkronos news agency last night, stressing the importance of reacting "without panic" and "not letting our guard down."

Zingaretti also added pointedly that: "During the summer there were those who gave out the wrong messages" in relation to the coronavirus situation in Italy.

The expected order from Lazio, which follows similar moves in Campania, Calabria and Sicily, comes as Italy registered 2,548 new covid-19 infections over the past 24 hours, on 1 October, the first time the country has exceeded 2,000 cases in a single day since 29 April.

However the five-month high figure also coincides with a record number of tests: 118,236 swabs, about 13,000 more than the day before.

Another key difference between the numbers is that Italy registered 24 coronavirus-related deaths on 1 October, compared to 323 fatalities on 29 April, reports Reuters.

It is also worth remembering that Italy's increase in covid-19 cases is nowhere near the surge affecting other countries in Europe such as France, Spain and the UK.

In recent days the international media has reported extensively about Italy beating a second wave of coronavirus - a premature view for many Italians - while the World Health Organization released a video praising the country for its effective response to covid-19.

Italy's success in reducing the number of cases is largely due to one of the strictest lockdowns in the world as well as mass testing, gradual easing of restrictions and the Italians' widespread adherence to rules such as wearing masks.

Italy's premier Giuseppe Conte announced his intention yesterday of extending the country's existing state of emergency until 31 January - a year after it was first introduced - to allow national and regional authorities to act fast in tackling covid-19.

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