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HEALTH

‘Freedom isn’t the right to make others ill’: Italy’s president warns country to stay on guard

President Sergio Mattarella told Italians to remain on guard in a speech on Friday, as the country saw another slight rise in virus cases.

'Freedom isn't the right to make others ill': Italy's president warns country to stay on guard
Italian President Sergio Mattarella. File photo: AFP
Speaking at a ceremony held before parliament's summer recess, Mattarella stressed that everyone should continue to take basic precautions to combat the spread of the virus, such as social distancing, the use of facemasks in enclosed spaces, and washing hands frequently.
 
Mattarella paid tribute to the more than 35,000 people who have died in Italy due to Covid-19 to date, saying “four months ago over 800 of our compatriots died in just one day,” the Ansa news agency reported.
 

 
“This is a reason for us to not lower out defences,” he said. “Learning to live with the virus does not mean behaving like it no longer exists”.
 
“One must not confuse liberty with the right to make others ill,” he said, apparently referring to recent criticism of the precautions by some opposition politicians and other public figures.
 
“Out of respect for the dead, we cannot and must not undo the sacrifices made by our fellow citizens, whose behaviour allowed us to have greater confidence today.”
 
“Elsewhere, refusal or inability to follow those behaviours is causing dramatic consequences,” he added.
 
 
 
 
The president also thanked the countries that came to Italy's aid at the peak of its coronavirus emergency.
 
His words echoed the warnings of Italy's health minister and other public health officials, who have repeatedly warned Italians in recent weeks to remain vigilant amid fears of a potential second wave of infections across Europe.
 
Offical data shows that the infection rate in Italy has remained generally stable overall during the past month.
 
A slight rise in new cases was reported on Thursday as Italy registered 386 new coronavirus cases in 24 hours, and the number was similar on Friday at 379.
 
This was up from the 289 cases reported on Wednesday, according to the Health Ministry.
 
Most of Thursday's new cases were in Veneto (112) and Lombardy (88), with 39 in Sicily and 35 in Emilia-Romagna.
 
Five regions reported no new cases: Umbria, Sardinia, Valle d'Aosta, Molise and Basilicata.
 

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TRAVEL NEWS

Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

The mandatory EU-wide mask requirement for air travel is set to be dropped from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still require passengers to wear masks on some or all flights

Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

Europe-wide facemask rules on flights are set to be ditched as early as next week in light of new recommendations from health and air safety experts.

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) dropped recommendations for mandatory mask-wearing in airports and during flights in updated Covid-19 safety measures for travel issued on Wednesday, May 11th.

The new rules are expected to be rolled out from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still continue to require the wearing of masks on some or all of flights. And the updated health safety measures still say that wearing a face mask remains one of the best ways to protect against the transmission of the virus.

The joint EASA/ECDC statement reminded travellers that masks may still be required on flights to destinations in certain countries that still require the wearing of masks on public transport and in transport hubs.

It also recommends that vulnerable passengers should continue to wear a face mask regardless of the rules, ideally an FFP2/N95/KN95 type mask which offers a higher level of protection than a standard surgical mask.

“From next week, face masks will no longer need to be mandatory in air travel in all cases, broadly aligning with the changing requirements of national authorities across Europe for public transport,” EASA executive director Patrick Ky said in the statement. 

“For passengers and air crews, this is a big step forward in the normalisation of air travel. Passengers should however behave responsibly and respect the choices of others around them. And a passenger who is coughing and sneezing should strongly consider wearing a face mask, for the reassurance of those seated nearby.”  

ECDC director Andrea Ammon added: “The development and continuous updates to the Aviation Health Safety Protocol in light of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic have given travellers and aviation personnel better knowledge of the risks of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and its variants. 

“While risks do remain, we have seen that non-pharmaceutical interventions and vaccines have allowed our lives to begin to return to normal. 

“While mandatory mask-wearing in all situations is no longer recommended, it is important to be mindful that together with physical distancing and good hand hygiene it is one of the best methods of reducing transmission. 

“The rules and requirements of departure and destination states should be respected and applied consistently, and travel operators should take care to inform passengers of any required measures in a timely manner.”

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