Italy tightens Covid restrictions amid “new wave”

The country has registered more than 150,000 cases in the past seven days, with 26,824 Covid-19 infections and 380 deaths on Friday alone.

The Prime Minister’s Office, Mario Draghi, said that in addition to Monday closings, the entire country would be classified as a high risk “red zone” over the Easter weekend, which would result in a full shutdown.

The residents must stay at home, except for work, health or other significant reasons.

Mr. Draghi’s office has also signed a decree designating areas with more than 250 weekly cases per 100,000 population as “red zones”.

Within these areas, masks must be worn outside of homes, restaurants must be closed but can serve take-away (with restrictions), online retail stores are allowed, and only essential travel is allowed.

“I am aware of that [the] Restrictions have ramifications for your children’s education, for the economy and for everyone’s mental health, “Draghi said while visiting a Covid-19 vaccination center.

“However, they are necessary to avoid a worsening of the situation, which would require even more stringent measures.

“Unfortunately there is a new wave of infection one year after the start of the emergency.”

There were more than 150,000 infections last week, compared to 131,000 the previous week, an increase of nearly 5,000 people in the hospital and 600 in the intensive care unit.

“These numbers mean that we must use extreme caution to limit the number of deaths and prevent the saturation of health facilities,” Draghi said.

Sardinia, a large island off the west coast of Italy, is the only region in Italy with low infection rates that is classified as a “white zone” and has fewer than 50 cases per 100,000 inhabitants.

Italy has recorded nearly 3.2 million cases of coronavirus since the outbreak began last year, with more than 100,000 deaths.

It is the second worst hit European country after the UK.

Delays in vaccination across the European Union have left Italy struggling with a slow vaccination rate. However, Mr Draghi has promised to triple the number of daily vaccinations given across the country if coronavirus cases rise.

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