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People's Daily Online

Italy eases restrictions in most regions as pandemic trend improves

People's Daily Online

(Xinhua) 08:48, February 02, 2021

ROME, Feb. 1 (Xinhua) -- Coronavirus restrictions were eased in most of Italy's 20 regions on Monday after the latest epidemiological picture showed an improving pandemic trend in the country.

Only Sicily, Sardinia, Apulia, and Umbria, plus the northeast autonomous province of Bolzano remained in the so-called "orange zone" -- meaning they were still facing a medium risk of contagion.

All the other regions turned yellow, which allowed restaurants, bars, and any other eateries to resume their activities indoors up to 6 p.m. No area in the country was currently in the red zone.

A three-tier system of red, orange, or yellow zones implemented since early November denotes high, medium, or low risk, respectively according to the rate of virus transmission and state of local hospitals.

A national curfew from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. will remain in place across the country, as well as a ban on inter-regional travels but for proven work, health, or emergency reasons.

In the yellow regions, kindergartens and schools of all grades fully reopened on Monday, with 70 to 75 percent of pupils allowed to attend classes in their classrooms, and the rest following through remote learning.

Also, museums and art exhibitions were allowed to reopen on Monday, provided that they were able to comply with social distancing and all other sanitary rules.

The decision to reduce the tight anti-COVID measures resulted from the latest epidemiological survey unveiled by the National Health Institute (ISS) on Saturday.

The survey showed a reproduction rate at 0.84 in the period under monitoring (up to Jan. 24). That means one infected person spread the virus to less than one other person during that time.

"Overall, the situation shows signs of improvement both in terms of incidence (number of cases on overall population) and of impact on health services," the ISS stated in its latest report.

However, ISS experts noted that the pandemic situation in other European countries was worsening and therefore "a new quick increase in the number of cases in the coming weeks is possible."

As of Monday, Italy has registered over 2.56 million coronavirus cases, a daily increase of 7,925 cases, according to the Health Ministry. Active infections decreased by 6,379 cases to a total of 447,589 on a daily basis, confirming a downward trend seen since early December.

The number of recoveries -- which exceeded 2 million on Saturday -- showed a new rise of 13,975 cases on Monday against the previous day.

The country's death toll stood at 88,845, with 329 new fatalities over the last 24 hours.

By Monday, over 2 million people in Italy have been administered one of the two authorized coronavirus vaccines, according to emergency commissioner Domenico Arcuri.

These included 674,27 people who have received two doses of either Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine.

Vaccination campaigns with authorized COVID-19 vaccines are underway in many European countries. Meanwhile, 237 candidate vaccines are still being developed worldwide -- 63 of them in clinical trials -- in countries including Germany, China, Russia, Britain and the United States, according to information released by the World Health Organization on Jan. 29.

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