‘Italians with coronavirus symptoms could face murder charges if they venture outside despite the quarantine and cause a patient’s death.
Suspected virus patients have been ordered to stay indoors with a penalty of 206 euros (£182) over their heads – but they could face far graver charges if they infect someone on their travels.
The most severe charge of ‘malicious murder’ could lead to a prison sentence as long as 21 years, according to Italian media, while virus spreaders could still be charged with misconduct even if no-one is killed.
‘If I am infected, I know I am, and I look for contact with other people regardless of the possibility of transmitting the infection, then the crime of injury occurs,’ lawyer Franco Coppi told the Corriere della Sera newspaper.
Italian media compared the possible charges to penalties for spreading HIV by deliberately having unprotected sex – a charge which led to one man being jailed for 24 years in one case in Rome in 2017.
It came as Italy shut down all shops except for pharmacies and food stores today as the country entered day three of its unprecedented nationwide lockdown.
Prime minister Giuseppe Conte announced the latest wave of restrictions in a prime-time address last night with bars, pubs and restaurants shut down for two weeks.
‘Thank you to all Italians who make sacrifices. We are proving to be a great nation,’ Conte said in his nine-minute address to the nation.
The quarantine is in place until at least April 3, but top health official Walter Ricciardi told Italian TV today that his countrymen should prepare for a ‘long war’ against the virus.
Italian cities are becoming ‘unrecognisable’ with the famous piazzas in Rome, Florence and Venice empty except for sanitation workers spraying them with disinfectant.’