Covid-19: Italy needs 'total lockdown' says advisor to health ministry

Lockdown in Italy should be immediate and nationwide says top government health advisor.

Italy requires an "immediate total lockdown" on a nationwide level, according to Walter Ricciardi, a senior coronavirus advisor to the Italian health ministry.

Citing the "heavy number of deaths every day," Ricciardi said it is "evident that the strategy of living with the virus, adopted so far, is ineffective and condemns us to instability."

Ricciardi said the lockdown should be of "limited duration" and should include the closure of schools but keep essential businesses open, reports Italian newspaper Il Fatto Quotidiano.

He also said the measure should coincide with a "strengthening" of Italy's tracking and vaccination campaign.

Ricciardi, a lecturer in hygiene at Rome's Sacro Cuore University, said it was "urgent" that Italy changed the way it is combatting covid-19, adding that he would "talk about it this week" with health minister Roberto Speranza.

Walter Ricciardi calls for total lockdown in Italy

On Twitter Ricciardi posted a image of a 2017 cover from TIME magazine titled "Warning: We are not ready for the next pandemic," writing in his post that it was the "duty of public health scientists to tell the truth."

The intervention from Ricciardi came the same evening that the health ministry postponed the reopening of ski slopes in lower-risk 'yellow zones' until 5 March.

The last-minute decision was taken a matter of hours before ski resorts were due to reopen this morning, 15 February.

Ricciardi is a member of the technical scientific committee (CTS) advising the government on the coronavirus crisis, which urged the health ministry to close the ski slopes because of the "changed epidemiological conditions" due to the "widespread circulation" of covid-19 variants.

Ricciardi had earlier said the ski slopes should not reopen, saying: "Let us not forget that the English covid variant arrived in Europe precisely by 'passing' through the ski lifts in Switzerland."

Ricciardi's warning came the same day as the regions of Abruzzo, Liguria, Tuscany and the province of Trento turned 'orange' under the latest update to Italy's covid-19 restrictions.

Ricciardi's call for lockdown was heavily criticised on Italian television last night by Matteo Salvini, leader of the right-wing Lega, who said: "Before terrorising 60 million inhabitants, do us the favour of talking about it first with the prime minister."

Carlo Calenda, the prominent Italian politician, manager and candidate for Rome mayor, noted on Twitter that in June Ricciardi had "warned about the second wave, amid general disinterest."

For official updates regarding covid-19 in Italy see the Italian health ministry website.