ITALY will be hit with a devastating second wave of coronavirus as it eases its lockdown, according to a study.
Imperial College London (ICL) modeled how the virus would spread as the country begins to reopen as they warned a “resurgence of the epidemic with more deaths than the current wave”.
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ICL modeled three scenarios about what is next for Italy, including staying in lockdown, a slight easing of measures and then a larger easing of measures.
The paper states: “Returns to pre-lockdown mobility of 20% or 40% from current levels may lead to a resurgence of the epidemic with more deaths than the current wave in the absence of additional interventions.”
The study warned that social distancing measures will need to remain in place along with testing, contact-tracing and isolation of people infected with Covid-19
Italy finally began to emerge from its national lockdown yesterday after spending two months in a strict quarantine.
It was first nation in Europe to feel the impacts of the devastating virus – with horrific images emerging serving as a warning for the rest of the world.
The country’s current death toll stands at 29,079.
And meanwhile, the UK has now surpassed Italy’s official death toll according to figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) – with the number of fatalities from the virus now being 32,313.
Dr Samir Bhatt, from the School of Public Health and lead author, said: “The impact of COVID-19 on Italy has been tragic but the response taken to limit the impact of the disease has been successful and disease control has been substantively achieved.
“Unfortunately, continued social distancing and other measures are required to prevent this success from being rapidly reversed and our work provides a warning against underestimating the importance of such sacrifice.”
Researchers also warned there is no “herd immunity” in Italy despite he severe toll of the virus, with more than 200,000 people having been infected.
Dr Michaela Vollmer added: ” Even small changes in mobility will most likely lead to a resurgence of deaths and the occurrence of a second wave which may be even greater than what Italy has already experienced.”
Meanwhile, Italy’s current official death toll should be much higher according to the country’s National Institute of Statistics (ISTAT).
ISTAT officials have released new data which shows during the period from February 20 to end of the March when the country was facing the full force of the virus, excess deaths were 39 per cent higher than the average from the past five years.
Instead of the 65,592 deaths you would expect, there were 90,946 deaths this time.
The figures suggest Italy’s official death toll has missed thousands of victims as at the end of March health authorities had only counted just over 12,000 deaths from coronavirus.
With more than 25,000 extra deaths above the average, it suggests the figures are much higher.
Some areas were also hit particularly hard, with Bergamo reporting deaths rising by an astonishing 568 per cent.
Cremona also reported an increase of 391 per cent, with 371 per cent in Lodi, 291 per cent in Brescia, 264 per cent in Piacenza and 208 per cent in Parma.
ISTAT said that 91 per cent of excess deaths were concentrated around the the areas of the country which were severely impacted by the pandemic.
Britain hit the grim milestone today to overtake Italy as having the highest official death toll in Europe.
The ONS said said 29,648 deaths had taken place as of April 24 in England and Wales with COVID-19 mentioned in death certificates.
And including deaths for Scotland and Northern Ireland, the official toll now stands at 32,313.
Ministers dislike comparisons of the headline death toll, as they say excess mortality is a more meaningful metric.
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Italy is hoping to get tourists coming back by the end of the year as it seeks ways to get its economy moving – with previous suggestions that they would be banned until 2021.
The government has also given the green light for factories to restart production lines while construction workers were seen back at building sites today.
Health officials have also allowed parks to reopen while relatives can be reunited with their families, but friends have been told to keep apart and most shops must stay shut until May 18.
It comes the UK Government is trying to work out how best to exit lockdown, with two out of the five key tests needed ease measures being met.