A coronavirus cluster has emerged in the southern Italian region of Molise, which until Tuesday had recorded the lowest number of cases in the country.
The region, which has a population of 305,000, registered zero or few cases during the first few days of May, before the rate shot up by 22 on 8 May. There have been 85 new cases over the past week, infections that are believed to have derived from a funeral procession that took place on 30 April in the regional capital of Campobasso.
The mayor, Roberto Gravina, said no funeral or procession had been authorised. Funerals were banned during the lockdown but were allowed to resume on 4 May with no more than 15 people.
Police said around 30 mourners from the Roma community had gathered for the procession.
“It is probable that the increase of infections in this city is linked to that event,” Gravina told TGCom24 on Wednesday, adding that an investigation is underway.
The rise of infections has raised alarm in the region as well as hate towards the Roma community, according to Christian Sarachello, the president of Opera Nomadi Molise, a Roma association, for the town of Isernia.
“A scandalous campaign has broken out towards Roma communities who have lived in Molise for 600 years and who have been integrated into the fabric of our region and two provincial capitals,” he said.
Sarachello said a person from the Roma community in Isernia had been stopped from entering a supermarket. “Mud has been slung against the Roma community, we have no ties to Campobasso,” he said. “We cancelled a funeral, yet one of our young people was not allowed to enter a supermarket. This is social hatred.”
Molise has had 401 confirmed cases of coronavirus since the start of Italy’s outbreak and 22 deaths.
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