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World News

Queues form at Italian COVID-19 test centres as holidaymakers return

Healthcare workers register people at a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) drive in test centre at Rome's San Giovanni hospital in Rome, Italy, August 18, 2020. REUTERS/Remo Casilli

ROME (Reuters) - Travellers returning to Italy from Greece, Spain, Malta and Croatia lined up on Tuesday at centres across Rome to be tested for coronavirus after the health ministry imposed mandatory screening on visitors to the four countries.

Since some Italian airports are still not offering on site tests, people have been forced to attend local screening centres to comply with the regulation passed last week.

“At Fiumicino airport they didn’t do anything, they spoke about carrying out tests but in the end there was nothing there. So we came here out of our own goodwill,” said Antonio Semeraro, recently back from Spain.

Italy, one of Europe’s worst-affected countries with more than 35,000 COVID-19 deaths, has managed to contain the outbreak but is struggling to avoid a new surge.

Cases have risen over the last month, with experts blaming nightlife, the return of holidaymakers and poor social distancing.

“I am here for the test as I have just returned from Greece, two days ago. I queued up and have waited about half an hour,” said Alan Almand.

The government has also shut discos and clubs and ordered the use of masks between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. in open spaces where people gather.

Reporting by Gabriele Pileri and Eleanor Biles; writing by Angelo Amante; editing by Giles Elgood

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