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‘We’re freedom-loving too, but also serious’: Italian president responds to BoJo’s claim about why Italy has lower Covid-19 rate

Italian President Sergio Mattarella has replied to UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s unexpected explanation as to why Rome seems to be doing better in containing the spread of the coronavirus.

Johnson was asked in parliament if the reason Italy and Germany had “far lower” Covid-19 rates and had managed to avoid bringing back major restrictions was due to test and trace services “that actually work,” as opposed to the case in Britain.

The PM replied that an “important difference between our country and many other countries around the world” is the UK being “a freedom loving country.”

“If you look at the history of this country over the last 300 years, virtually every advance – from free speech to democracy – has come from this country,” Johnson said.

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When asked to comment on Johnson’s statement, Mattarella said: “We Italians also love freedom, but we also care about seriousness.”

Johnson announced new quarantine restrictions earlier this week, including a 10pm curfew for pubs, bars and restaurants, as well as tougher social distancing rules. The measures were unveiled in response to the new spike of coronavirus across the country.

Italy was the first European nation to be badly hit by Covid-19 during the early months of the outbreak. It was the first EU member state to impose a nationwide lockdown as well. The quarantine rules were subsequently relaxed later in May.

The UK has had more than 412,000 Covid-19 cases since the start of the outbreak, and nearly 42,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University. Italy registered over 302,500 infections, and almost 35,800 deaths.

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