Police violently clashed with protesters in an Italian town which has become a hotspot for the virus.
The chaos in Mondragone, near Naples, was sparked by the appearance of Italy’s far-right leader, Matteo Salvini, who was pelted with eggs by the angry crowd.
Police officers lashed out at the protesters with batons and riot shields, leaving one man with blood dripping down his face.
Tensions in Mondragone are rising over a surge in cases at a flat block occupied by hundreds of migrant workers.
Last week, the authorities announced that more than 40 migrants living in the abandoned building had tested positive for the virus, and warned the entire town could be quarantined if the outbreak spreads.
The buildings were sealed off but a group of residents defied the order to stay put, marching through the town in protest at what they said was racist discrimination.
Many of those living at the complex are Bulgarians working as seasonal fruit pickers in the fields around the town.
The region of Campania has been only marginally hit by the pandemic whose epicentre is in four northern regions which account for 70% of the roughly 240,000 confirmed cases.
Wearing an Italian flag mask around his neck, Salvini told reporters it was his duty to visit the town, with his words almost inaudible among the protesters’ yelling and chanting.
‘If people here called me, if good people who want to live peacefully in Mondragone, it is my duty to be here and I will keep coming back day after day without telling those delinquents, because in other cities we have brought back normality and safety and we will also do that in Mondragone,’ he said.
Salvini was Italy’s interior minister and deputy prime minister in the country’s previous government coalition with the 5-Star Movement, where his popularity grew, taking a hard line on immigration and building an informal ‘man of the people’ public image.
He pulled the plug on the coalition last year and since then, his popularity has fallen.
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