Italian Govt Minister Suggests Quarter of New Coronavirus Cases Are Foreign

Migrants wearing protective facemasks on board of the humanitarian aid boat Ocean Viking, chartered by charity group SOS Mediterranee, prepare to disimbark upon their arrival on July 6, 2020 in the harbour of Porto Empedocle on the island of Sicily, before being transferred to the Italian ferry Moby Zaza for …
SHAHZAD ABDUL/AFP via Getty Images

Italian Minister for Regional Affairs Francesco Boccia inadvertently revealed that up to a quarter of new coronavirus cases are of foreign origin after stating that 75 per cent of cases were Italians infected by Italians.

Minister Boccia revealed the information while trying to calm Italians concerned that the recent wave of migrants coming from North Africa could end up spreading the disease and lead to a new wave of coronavirus outbreaks.

“75 per cent of the positives are Italian, infected by other Italians,” Boccia said, suggesting that the remaining 25 per cent are either foreigners or Italians infected by foreigners.

“As for the positive foreigners rescued at sea, they are all subjected to tests and swabs and many of them leave immediately,” he added, Il Giornale reports.

In recent weeks the number of new migrant arrivals has surged in southern Italy, primarily in Sicily and the island of Lampedusa, where it was reported that an average of one migrant boat an hour was arriving.

The migrant centre on the island, which is meant to hold 95 people, is currently housing 950 and the Mayor of Lampedusa, Toto’ Martello, has questioned why the government has not declared a state of emergency.

Many migrants arriving in Italy in recent weeks have also tested positive for the Wuhan virus, including at least 28 migrants brought by the German NGO Sea-Watch in late June.

Last week, over 130 migrants who had been sent to Northern Italy tested positive for the coronavirus at a migrant reception centre in Treviso.

Several migrant centres have been placed under quarantine after the discovery of residents who tested positive for the virus but many migrants have made attempts to escape, some of them successfully.

On Sunday, a migrant centre in Udine erupted into riots as migrant violently protested the coronavirus quarantine that had been enforced at the centre. The protests continued into Monday and saw migrants set mattresses on fire and throw rocks at firemen trying to put out the fires.

Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at)


Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.