A study conducted by researchers at the Imperial College London (ICL) has found that Italy could experience a second, deadlier coronavirus outburst across the country. Researchers from ICL created a model to demonstrate how the virus would spread in three scenarios, if the country continued its lockdown or if the citizens increased their activity by 20 percent and 40 percent. The Imperial researchers used mathematical modelling to simulate the spread of COVID-19 eight weeks into the future in all regions of Italy.
The model found that if people go back to just 20 percent of their normal routine, it would lead to a surge in fatalities higher than the first wave, which has already claimed close to 30,000 lives in the country. If mobility levels are increased by 40 percent, there would be as many as 53,000 deaths, according to the report.
Second wave of outbreak in Italy will be deadlier
The researchers say the reason the death toll would increase so much is due to a large number of existing infection clusters in the hardest-hit parts of the country. Obviously, the research found that if the current lockdown is continued for longer without being lifted, the infections will dwindle and the death toll "is likely to be considerably lower in both scenarios."
The researchers have pointed out that their predictions are pessimistic considering they've not taken into account preventative measures that may be enforced by the authorities. However, they've noted that their findings highlight the need for contact tracing apps, social distancing and mandatory use of masks when the country lifts its restrictions.
Italy loosens lockdown restrictions
The news comes as Italy enters "phase two" of its lockdown after almost two months in quarantine. The government has now started easing some of its restrictions such as allowing people to return to work at factories and construction sites and the opening of some businesses, including restaurants.
Public parks and gardens have also been re-opened for people to exercise and people have been permitted to visit relative and family members after Italy reported a slump in fatalities as authorities believe the outbreak has started to fizzle out. In Venice, where the empty streets and alleyways once illustrated the magnitude of the coronavirus crisis in Europe, St Mark's Square was packed with people again as local traders and citizens gathered in the piazza, according to Daily Mail.
Trains and platforms resumed operations in Milan with more than four million people expected to return to work. Italy's government says the regions are responsible for ensuring social distancing on public transport, but there are some reports suggesting it was not being strictly enforced by authorities.