Italy: Deliberate Coronavirus Spreaders Face up to 21 Years in Prison for Murder

An armed Italian Carabinieri police officer, wearing a respiratory mask as part of precautionary measures against the spread of the new COVID-19 coronavirus, performs driving permission controls in Milan on March 10, 2020 as Italy imposed unprecedented national restrictions on its 60 million people on March 10 to control the …
MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP via Getty Images

Italian authorities warned that people showing signs of coronavirus and who refuse to self-quarantine could face murder charges if they fatally infect another person.

Italians who demonstrate symptoms associated with COVID-19, such as fever, cough, or other signs of the illness, and refuse to isolate themselves from the community, risk being prosecuted for causing injury.

If as a result of a person breaking quarantine, an elderly or at-risk person becomes infected with the virus and dies, the spreader of the virus could face charges of intentional murder with a minimum sentence of 21 years in prison, according to the Italian newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore.

The penalty could also apply to those who continue to socialise after being made aware that they had contact with a confirmed coronavirus patient.

Those who lie to public officials about their need to travel during the shutdown could face between one and six years behind bars. Anyone who breaks the travel restrictions — which includes filling out a government form to leave their own home — faces up to three months in prison and a fine of up to €206.

Criminal charges for the spread of the coronavirus in the country will follow the same principle about the knowing transmission of the human immunodeficiency viruses (HIV).

Italy has experienced the worst outbreak of the coronavirus in Europe, with over 15,000 confirmed cases and 1,016 deaths, according to the BBC.

On Thursday, the Italian government extended its measures to contain the outbreak, closing all shops in the country, excluding pharmacies and food stores.

The shutdown, which will last until March 25th, extends measures which already closed down schools, nightclubs, museums, swimming pools, and other public spaces.

In a televised address to the nation on Wednesday, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said that the “effects of those measures will be seen in a couple of weeks, so cases can still increase in coming days”, Bloomberg reports.

The outbreak of the virus has placed considerable strain on Italy’s healthcare system, with doctors saying that they have begun rationing care to older coronavirus patients in favour of treating the young.

“If someone between 80 and 95 has serious breathing difficulties, you probably don’t proceed,” said Christian Salaroli, an anaesthetist at a Bergamo hospital.

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