Sicily official resigns amid probe of virus data

Students use their lockers at the Manin primary school in Rome Tuesday, March 30, 2021. Some schools decided to anticipate the reopening of first grade classes, that was scheduled for after Easter vacations.

The top health care official in Sicily has resigned amid a criminal investigation into allegations he and others knowingly provided false coronavirus data to the Italian government.

Sicily’s health assessor, Ruggero Razza, denied having provided false information to avoid the area being placed in the strictest “red zone” lockdown and insisted every case and death was reported, according to a statement carried by the ANSA and LaPresse news agencies. He noted Sicily had often requested and imposed stricter restrictions than the national government.

Citing telephone intercepts, prosecutors allege a half-dozen regional officials worked to spread out COVID-19 cases and deaths over several days, from November to March, to prevent single-day reports from showing spikes that would have resulted in lockdown, the news agencies said.

The Italian government last year created a tiered system of restrictions based on daily reports from regions of new infections, deaths and virus tests performed. Based on that data, hospital capacity and other criteria, individual regions are evaluated on a weekly basis and placed in the corresponding level of restrictions.

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