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Italy's daily Covid cases top 200,000 for 1st time

 
Rome, Jan 7 (IANS) For the first time since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic in early 2020, Italy registered over 200,000 daily cases amid an ongoing resurgence fuelled by the highly-transmissible Omicron variant, according to health authorities.

In the last 24 hours, the country logged 219,441 cases, which increased the overall infection tally as of Friday morning to 6,975,465.

The country had never recorded more than 100,000 new cases in a single day until December 30, 2021. But the situation had gotten worse almost every day since then.

The Ministry of Health also announced 198 coronavirus deaths in the same 24 hour period, down from 231 a day earlier. The death toll now stands at 138,474.

Though the deaths from the latest wave of the pandemic is on the rise, it remains well below the all-time one-day peaks that regularly topped 750 in late March and early April of 2020, and again between late November to mid-December 2020.

The number of patients in intensive care units in Italy have also continued to spike, reaching 1,467 on Thursday, an increase of 39 over the previous day.

But even so, the number of intensive-care-unit patients remained below all-time highs from 2020. Healthcare officials attributed it to less severe outcomes for vaccinated people infected by the virus and improved methods of treatment.

Italy on Wednesday issued new rules requiring all residents over the age of 50 to get vaccinated.

"We want to put the brakes on the growth of the spread of contagion and push Italians who are still not vaccinated to do so," said Prime Minister Mario Draghi in a statement sent to reporters.

As of Friday morning, 46.5 million Italian residents have been completely vaccinated, equivalent to 86.2 per cent of the country's population over the age of 12.

The European Centre for Disease Control has declared 19 of Italy's 20 regions and autonomous provinces as "dark red" areas in terms of coronavirus infection rates, the most severe level.

The only exception is the island region of Sardinia, which is "light red", the second-most severe level in the four-colour system.

--IANS
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