Prosecutors to question Italy PM on virus

Gavin Jones
Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte says he will speak to prosecutors about COVID-19's spread in Bergamo

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte says he will be questioned by prosecutors over the way the coronavirus outbreak was handled in the northern Italian city of Bergamo, one of the areas most badly affected by the epidemic.

"I am not at all worried," Conte told reporters outside the prime minister's office in Rome on Wednesday.

"We will speak on Friday and I will pass on all the facts I am aware of," he said, adding that he was not under investigation himself.

The prosecutors are looking into why badly hit areas around Bergamo were not closed down early in the outbreak and have already questioned the regional governor of Lombardy, which includes Bergamo, and Lombardy's health chief.

Deaths from the COVID-19 epidemic in Italy climbed by 71 on Wednesday, against 79 the day before, the Civil Protection Agency said.

The daily tally of new cases fell to 202 from 283 on Tuesday.

The total death toll since the outbreak came to light on February 21 now stands at 34,114, the agency said, the fourth highest in the world after those of the United States, Britain and Brazil.

The number of confirmed cases amounts to 235,763, the seventh highest global tally behind those of the United States, Russia, Brazil, Spain, Britain and India.