As Europe Reopens, Key Virus Protections Are Still Elusive
We're offering this story for free to read so that you can stay updated on the COVID-19 outbreak
As Europe Reopens, Key Virus Protections Are Still Elusive
Italy’s virus reopening was supposed to be accompanied by a series of measures to limit infections in the one-time epicenter of Europe’s pandemic: the distribution of millions of inexpensive surgical masks to pharmacies nationwide, a pilot project of 150,000 antibody tests and, eventually, the roll-out of a contact tracing app.

None of these is in place as Italy experiments with its second week of loosening restrictions and looks ahead to Monday’s reopening of shops and, in some regions, bars and restaurants.

Italy’s commissioner for the emergency, Domenico Arcuri, went on the defensive Tuesday to respond to mounting criticism of his Phase II roll-out.

He insisted “Italians know well what to do” to protect themselves, even if they don’t have the tests, masks, contact-tracing or other measures that public health authorities deemed necessary for Italy to reopen in safety.

“Sometimes I make mistakes for which I expect criticism and, if necessary, reprimand, from Italians,” Arcuri said. But he directed the blame at others and repeated that he was working solely in the public’s interest.

Italy is by no means alone in emerging from lockdown without all its infection-prevention pillars in place. And no country has had a blueprint for managing either the COVID-19 outbreak or the reopening phase.

But Italy’s problems epitomize the challenges many countries face as they seek to balance economic and health care needs while reassuring terrified citizens with promises that perhaps were overly optimistic.

France’s pledge to “protect, test and trace” all those who come into contact with a coronavirus patient was dealt a setback Monday when the constitutional court threw out part of its new virus law. The court objected to the contact tracing language and ordered the government to take extreme care in protecting privacy.

The law, which took effect Tuesday, calls for teams of health care workers to trace the contacts of COVID-19 patients and share that data on a government server, with or without the patients’ consent.


You can read upto 3 premium stories before you subscribe to Magzter GOLD

Log-in, if you are already a subscriber


Get unlimited access to thousands of curated premium stories and 5,000+ magazines


May 15, 2020