Italy's opposition leader hits at govt on its handling of COVID-19
Updated 01:11, 31-Jul-2020
Italy's opposition leader Matteo Salvini. /Reuters

Italy's opposition leader Matteo Salvini. /Reuters

Italy's opposition leader Matteo Salvini lashed out at the government after more than 100 migrants tested positive for the coronavirus at a center in the north of the country.

Tests on migrants living in temporary housing at a barracks in the city of Treviso showed that 129 have the virus, according to a local health official. None had symptoms and everyone in the barracks has been put under quarantine.

While Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has pointed to threats from surging virus cases in countries including Spain and France as he sets out the case for extending his emergency powers, Salvini has sought to return to political prominence by mocking the government's policies as toothless.

The League party leader, whose anti-migrant agenda was sidelined in the wake of Italy’s virus outbreak, made headlines earlier this week when he refused to wear a mask during a virus conference in the Senate.

Salvini later used the Treviso outbreak to vilify the policies of Conte's coalition during a speech at the Senate in Rome.

"They track Italians with masks while allowing hundreds who are potentially infected to come off the boats and onto the beaches, damaging our tourism," Salvini said.

Senators later voted to authorize a second trial for Salvini over moves to stop migrants from landing in the country during his tenure as interior minister.

The latest case is prompted by Salvini blocking the Open Arms ship with 164 rescued migrants from docking in Sicily in August 2019. Prosecutors have charged the former interior minister with kidnapping in the case. Salvini says he was following government policy.

Italy, the original European epicenter of the pandemic, reported 386 new coronavirus cases Thursday, the most since June 5 and taking the total to 247,158.

(With input from agencies)