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People's Daily Online

Italy relaxes anti-virus restrictions as it registers 12,532 new daily cases

People's Daily Online

(Xinhua) 08:39, January 12, 2021

ROME, Jan. 11 (Xinhua) -- A total of 12,532 new COVID-19 cases were registered in Italy over the last 24 hours, as the country on Monday returned to a three-tiered system that places regions into different restriction levels according to the local pandemic situation.

Actively infected people decreased by 3,953 cases to 575,979 on a daily basis, and recoveries increased by 16,035 to a total of 1,633,839, the latest data by the Health Ministry showed.

The large majority of those actively infected (549,734) are isolated at home, because with mild symptoms or asymptomatic. Patients hospitalized are 23,603 (176 more than the previous day), and those in intensive care units 2,648 (168 more).

Some 448 new fatalities were also recorded on Monday against Sunday, pushing the country's death toll to 79,203 since the pandemic broke out here in late February.

Two false COVID-19 infections erroneously registered in the Emilia Romagna region in the previous days were deducted on Monday from the country's total number, which stood at 2,289,021.

MOST REGIONS TURN 'YELLOW'

Meanwhile, after the tight national restrictions imposed in the Christmas and New Year holiday season, the country returned to the three-tiered system introduced in early November.

This provides each region to be declared red, orange, or yellow (denoting high risk, medium risk, and low risk, respectively) according to their rate of virus transmission and state of local hospitals.

After a decree Health Minister Roberto Speranza signed on Jan. 8, five regions became orange on Monday: namely, Lombardy, Veneto, Emilia Romagna, Calabria and Sicily.

Here, tight restrictions will remain in place, including a stop to all food services in bars and restaurants but for takeaway, and a ban on travels between towns.

The remaining 15 regions of the country turned yellow, thus facing lighter restrictions (restaurants and bars open, and travels between different municipalities allowed). Other rules, such as the curfew from 10 p.m. and 5 a.m., and a ban on inter-regional travels, will remain in place across the whole country.

This system depends on a periodical assessment by health authorities, so that the 'color' of each region can vary almost from one week to another.

VACCINATIONS PROCEED

By mid-Monday, some 654,362 people have been administered the BioNTech-Pfizer vaccine in Italy, according to Extraordinary Commissioner for the Coronavirus Emergency Domenico Arcuri's office.

After a symbolic V-Day across all European Union (EU) member states on Dec. 27, Italy's vaccination campaign truly kicked off on Dec. 31.

Those vaccinated so far were 403,954 women and 250,408 men, and almost all were doctors, nurses and other health care staff. The largest groups were made of people aged 50-59 (182,680), followed by those aged 40-49 (139,674) and aged 60-69 (104,748), according to the Arcuri's office.

After a slow beginning, Italy would thus rank among the first countries in Europe now in terms of the number of people vaccinated.

The campaign was hampered by some difficulties nonetheless. One problem was that the 908,700 vaccine doses so far available in Italy -- distributed across all regions according to their numbers and needs -- were being administered a little unevenly.

Official data, for example, showed northern Lombardy lagging behind other regions in recent days, despite it being one of the regions most affected by the pandemic.

A second risk was that of shortages, with some regions risking administering all of the doses allocated to them ahead of schedule.

This so far happened to southern Campania, where vaccinations had to stop temporarily on Saturday. Here, Arcuri's central procurement office on Monday stated it would send further 34,000 doses in the next three days.

Other regional governments (Tuscany, Veneto, and Umbria) said they were over 70 percent of their stocks and would soon run out of vaccine.

New supplies of the BioNTech-Pfizer vaccine currently administered will arrive in the country, and meanwhile, a possible relief would come from the second anti-COVID vaccine authorized by the Italian medicines regulator (AIFA) last week, the one developed by Moderna.

The first 47,000 Moderna doses will, in fact, be delivered at the National Health Institute (ISS) in Rome on Tuesday, the ISS stated.

Vaccination campaigns with authorized anti-COVID vaccines were underway in some countries around the world. At a global level, 235 candidate vaccines are still being developed -- 63 of which are in clinical trials -- in countries including Germany, Italy, China, Britain, and the United States, the World Health Organization stated in early January.



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