Italy takes actions to decrease impact of intense heatwaves: experts

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As intense high temperatures have left at least five people dead nationwide, Italy is striving to reduce fatality rate in the midst of the heatwaves, experts said.

Given that an estimated 12,000 people died in the 2003 heatwave in Italy, the scorching weather currently features rising intensity and frequency but declining fatality.

“There are many ways to measure how hot a summer is … But whatever measure you use, it is clear the years are becoming hotter,” Franco Desiato, head of monitoring air quality and climatology with Italian National Institute for Environmental Protection and Research, told Xinhua.

“Last year was the hottest on record overall. And this summer is only half over but could surpass it,” he said.

“After the terrible summer of 2003, Italy put a prevention plan into operation (in) the following years,” said Paola Michelozzi, director of the Department of Epidemiology for Health Services for the Lazio region, which comprises Rome.

The plan contained public information campaigns on practical guidelines in extreme weather, including staying inside during the hottest time of the day, drinking more fluids, and monitoring the most vulnerable people in a community, Michelozzi said.

The plan also set up an emergency system, which will give warning and financial assistance to some cities. In the current heatwave, 16 Italian cities have been put on high alert, including Rome, Venice, and Florence, she said.

Additionally, medical improvement is also an important factor behind the reduction in the number fatalities, she added.

“The significant decline in death rates came due to a complex combination of factors,” Michelozzi said.

The heatwave of 2019 is expected to end in Italy later this week, since average daytime temperatures fell around 5 degrees Celsius across the country, according to its national weather services.

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