A model put together by researchers shows how the virus would spread in three events – if the country remained in lockdown or if members of public increase their activity by 20 percent and 40 percent. Even if Italians went back to just 20 percent of their usual mobility, it would spark an increase in fatalities bigger than the first wave, which has so far killed 30,000 people.
If activity was restored by 40 percent, there could be between 10,000 23,000 more deaths, the research shows.
But if Italians were to go back to their normal activity pre-lockdown by 20 only percent, then a second wave would kill between 3,700 and 5,000 people, the report found.
It is not explained in the paper how the second outbreak would overtake the current death toll of 30,000.
Researchers say the study is founded from a pessimistic point of view as they have not taken int account preventive measures enforced by the government.
However, their findings emphasise the importance of preventive measures such as social distancing, the use of contact tracing apps, and the mandatory use of face masks.
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It comes after millions of Italians returned to work at factories and construction sites, parks were reopened for exercise and family members were allowed to meet again.
The country is now preparing to enter “phase two” of its lockdown exit blueprint after almost two months quarantined.
The researchers say the reason the death toll would increase so much is due to a large number of ongoing infections in the hardest-hit parts of the country.
If the current lockdown goes on for longer before being lifted, then infection rates will continue to decrease and the death toll “is likely to be considerably lower in both scenarios”.
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The guidance states that members of public using public transport must wear face masks
Writing in the paper, which has not yet been published or scrutinised by other scientists, the researchers said: “When simulating future scenarios we have not accounted for the impact of social distancing measures in public transport and public space, alongside the mandatory use of personal protective equipment (PPE).
“The cost benefit trade off between the implementation of new interventions and the relaxation of current NPIs [restrictions] is unknown, and will depend on the effectiveness of this new set of interventions, behaviour, adherence to the recommendations and the correct use of the personal protective equipment.
“Given that interventions, such as extensive testing, contact tracing and social distancing are going to be implemented, our estimates can be viewed as being pessimistic.
“On the other hand, simulating 20 percent and 40 percent increase in mobility over the next eight weeks is likely a conservative scenario. Our model uses the official deaths counts to estimate changes in transmission intensity.
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“As more information on new interventions are introduced we will include them in our modelling framework.”
Explaining the report, Dr Thomas House, a reader in mathematical statistics at the University of Manchester, said: “Italy is the European country that experienced the earliest surge in COVID-19 cases and as such it is important to follow the situation there closely.
“This paper quantifies the extent to which non-pharmaceutical interventions have worked, and reflecting the uncertainty in what will happen considers multiple scenarios that might hold as they are relaxed.
“This study is applicable to the UK, since the authors correctly recommend that the situation is closely monitored as aspects of lockdown are relaxed, and do not try to predict the future exactly but rather present scenarios that may plausibly be realised depending on how this process actually develops.”
Prime minister Giuseppe Conte has revealed a phased lockdown exit
Italy’s R rate – the number of people that each person infects – in currently below 1, which indicates the pandemic could be under control soon.
Health officials said the R rate reached 3 at the peak of the outbreak in Lombardy, one of the hardest-hit areas in the country.
Prime minister Giuseppe Conte has revealed a phased lockdown exit yesterday, although the measures vary in each region.
The guidance indicates that in the current “phase two” bars and restaurants can offer takeaway services, and building site and factory workers can return to work.
Members of public are now allowed to visit relatives – not friends – who live in the same region.
Meanwhile, a maximum of 15 people are currently allowed at funerals.