People who test positive for the coronavirus but refuse hospital treatment could face a prison sentence under a new regulation introduced in Italy’s northeastern region of Veneto.
The order by Governor Luca Zaia says that until the end of July hospitals must tell the public prosecutor’s office of anyone refusing admission after testing positive.
Anyone returning to Veneto, which includes the city of Venice, must also be given two compulsory swab tests, Monday’s regional order says if they are returning from a business trip outside the European Union or a non-Schengen country.
Under Italian law, anyone who negligently spreads an epidemic risks a prison sentence up to 12 years, while anyone who does so wilfully may face up to life imprisonment.
“It is a way to partially compensate the national law that does not require isolation upon return from a non-EU country if the stay abroad lasts up to five days”, Zaia said during a news briefing which was streamed via Facebook.
Zaia’s order says that the person’s employer faces a penalty of 1,000 euros multiplied by the number of its employees, if it does not enforce the rule.
The last available data on coronavirus cases released on July 6 for Veneto shows the region had a total of 169 people hospitalised, but it said it was concerned by 28 new infections, of which 15 were related to travel abroad.
The spike in cases has attracted widespread interest in Italy, which is one of the world’s worst hit countries with a total of 34,869 dead and 241,819 infected with the coronavirus.
Minister of Health Roberto Speranza said on Sunday that Italy is considering compulsory health treatment in cases where a person has to be treated and does not.
The Ministry of Health did not respond to a request for comment on Veneto’s move.