MILAN, June 8 (AP) — An Italian special court has ended an investigation into whether the country’s former prime minister and former health minister caused unnecessary deaths for failing to extend lockdowns early in the coronavirus pandemic.
On Wednesday, the Brescia cabinet dismissed the lawsuit against former prime minister Giuseppe Conte and ex-health minister Roberto Speranza.
The mistake, the inquiry said, was not extending the “red zone” initially imposed on a handful of towns in northern Italy’s Lombardy and Veneto regions to neighboring Bergamo, where the death toll had soared.
Both officials said they acted on the basis of scientific knowledge and expert opinion available at the time.
Conte told RAI state television that the court’s decision “causes me to be comforted”.
“We were facing a virus, it was raging, and within a few days we took the decision in a very strict way to close other areas,” Conte said, adding that the court decision also made it clear that , the government made a reasonable decision given the available data.
A court in Bergamo must still rule against a dozen others. The Court of Cabinet deals with cases involving members of the Italian Cabinet.
With the province of Bergamo becoming Italy’s COVID-19 hotspot, more than 4,000 deaths could have been avoided had the lockdown been extended on February 27, 2020, the three-year survey said.
The city’s morgues were so overwhelmed that the army had to send trucks to take the coffins to other morgues for cremation.
On February 21, 2020, Italy became the first country outside Asia to confirm a case of COVID-19.
Three days later, the first “red zones” were implemented around 10 towns in Lombardy and one in Veneto, and expanded to the whole of Lombardy and 14 other provinces in the north on March 8. Two days later, Conte announced a nationwide lockdown.
Italy has officially recorded 188,322 deaths from COVID-19. (Associated Press)
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