ROME, July 29 (Xinhua) -- Italy on Wednesday declared a heatwave alert for 10 cities going into effect on Thursday, when temperatures in many parts of the country are expected to surpass 40 degrees Celsius.
It is the first major set of heatwave alerts this summer in Italy. That compares to the summer of 2019, when the country declared three large-scale hot weather alerts.
But the latest heatwave is expected to have farther-reaching consequences than the hot spells last summer, as the country is emerging from impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, which has so far infected nearly 250,000 people and caused more than 35,000 deaths.
The Italian economy is struggling with low production and export demand, a dramatic drop-off in tourist arrivals, and adjustments related to high numbers of workers doing their jobs from home. The heatwave could have a further negative impact, according to media reports.
For example, Coldiretti, a leading agricultural union, warned last week that the hot and dry weather along with a lack of field workers because of the pandemic could combine to make 2020 Italy's worst agricultural production year in decades.
The cities impacted by the alert include Bologna, Florence, Rome, and Turin. The alert means residents are encouraged to stay indoors during the hottest part of the day, and public officials in some cases hand out water bottles. This year, government officials have warned that residents must continue to obey coronavirus health rules, including mask-wearing and social distancing.
The alert will stay until Sunday, when high temperatures in most places are expected to drop to below 35 degrees Celsius.