Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis on Sunday urged Italy to ban its citizens from travelling abroad in a bid to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus that has led to a lockdown of one quarter of all Italians.
The Czech Republic has registered 26 cases of the virus — most with an origin in Italy — and put 1,100 people in quarantine.
“I think it’s important that Prime Minister (Giuseppe) Conte calls on all Italians not to leave Italy at all,” the billionaire populist Babis told the public Czech Television.
“It’s clear that Italy, unfortunately, doesn’t have it under control,” Babis said, also calling on Czechs who are currently in Italy to return home.
Italy has seen the most deaths from the COVID-19 disease of any country outside China, where the outbreak that has now killed more than 3,500 people and infected over 105,000 worldwide began in December.
On Sunday, the Rome government barred people from entering or leaving vast areas of northern Italy without good reason.
“They (Italians) shouldn’t travel to Europe because most of the cases in Germany, France, Spain… have originated in Italy,” Babis said.
Prague has ordered all Czechs coming back home from Italy’s most endangered northern regions to contact their doctors and go into quarantine for two weeks.
Following the lockdown in Italy, the Czech foreign ministry said it did not recommend any trips to Italy by Czech citizens.