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HEALTH

Italy’s coronavirus deaths up slightly amid hope cases are peaking

There have now been almost 14,000 coronavirus victims in Italy, officials said on Thursday, while infections seem to have reached a peak in some areas.

Italy's coronavirus deaths up slightly amid hope cases are peaking
Doctors wearing protective clothing at the entrance of the Nomentana hospital near Rome on April 2. Photo: Tiziana Fabi/AFP

Another 4,668 cases of the new coronavirus were confirmed on Thursday, according to the latest daily figures from Italy's Civil Protection department.

In total, Italy has now confirmed 115,242 cases of coronavirus since the outbreak began, including deceased and recovered patients.

The death toll figure rose by 760, a slight rise compared to Wednesday's 727.

This brings the total number of fatalities to 13,915.

Of those originally infected, some 18,278 in total had fully recovered on Thursday, compared to 16,847 the day before.

There were 4,053 people in intensive care, up from a previous 4,035, however authorities said the total number of patients in hospital because of the virus was down.

READ ALSO: Five reasons why the coronavirus hit Italy so hard

 

“The number of people being hospitalized has decreased,” said Angelo Borrelli, the head of the Civil Protection Department, who himself recently tested negative for coronavrus after falling ill.

“61 percent of the total infected people are in home isolation with no symptoms or with mild symptoms, a number that has increased in percentage terms,” he said.

The infection rate has also slowed again in Lombardy, the worst-affected region, with 1,292 new cases registered on Thursday, compared to 1,565 on Wednesday.

The death toll has not fluctuated dramatically for a few days, though some doubts were raised on Wednesday about the accuracy of data on fatalities.

Authorities acknowledge that the data are incomplete because deaths from COVID-19 related causes outside hospitals are not counted.

Italy has registered more deaths than anywhere else in the world, and currently accounts for around 28 percent of all global fatalities from the virus.

 

ANALYSIS: When will the coronavirus epidemic in Italy peak?

The world is watching closely for evidence that Italy's coronavirus quarantine measures have been enough to contain the spread.

Borrelli said on April 1st that infection rates in some parts of the country were reaching a peak, but said “the south is still at risk.”

“It would be a mistake to let our guard down now,” he added.

The Italian government on Wednesday extended the country’s current lockdown measures until April 13th.

In a speech on Wednesday night, Italian prime minister Giuseppe Conte told the public any loosening of the measures could spark a new rise in the number of cases.

 


“If we started to loosen the measures, all of our efforts would have been in vain and we would pay a very high price,” he said.

He also warned he could not commit to when the lockdown would end.

“The moment the data is consolidated and the experts give their response, we'll be able to identify an end date. But I can't give it today.”

READ ALSO:  How Italy has changed the way it reports the daily coronavirus figures

 

 

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COVID-19

Covid-19: Are Italian live events at risk of being postponed?

As the infection rate rises sharply across the country, Italian virologists are calling for concerts and festivals to be rescheduled.

Covid-19: Are Italian live events at risk of being postponed?

Italy has seen a large increase in the number of Covid-19 cases in recent days, so much so that a number of virologists across the country are now urging the government to postpone major live events in a bid to curb infections. 

According to a new report by Italy’s independent health watchdog, the Gimbe Foundation, 595,349 new cases were recorded in the week from June 29th to July 5th; a worrying 55 percent increase on the previous week. 

In the same time span, the country also registered a 32.8 percent rise in the number of hospitalised patients, which went from 6,035 to 8,003.  

The latest Covid wave, which is being driven by the highly contagious Omicron 5 variant, is a “real cause for concern”, especially in terms of a “potential patient overload”, said Nino Cartabellotta, president of the Gimbe Foundation. 

As Italian cities prepare to host a packed calendar of concerts and festivals this summer, health experts are questioning whether such events should actually take place given the high risk of transmission associated with mass gatherings.

READ ALSO: What tourists in Italy need to know if they get Covid-19

“Rescheduling these types of events would be the best thing to do right now,” said Massimo Ciccozzi, Director of Epidemiology at Campus Bio-Medico University of Rome. 

The summer wave is expected to peak in mid-July but, Ciccozzi warns, the upcoming live events might “delay [the peak] until the end of July or even beyond” and extend the infection curve.

Antonello Maruotti, Professor of Statistics at LUMSA University of Rome, recently shared Ciccozzi’s concerns, saying that live events as big as Maneskin’s scheduled Rome concert are “definitely not a good idea”. 

The Italian rock band are slated to perform at the Circus Maximus on Saturday, July 9th but the expected turnout – over 70,000 fans are set to attend the event – has raised objections from an array of Italian doctors, with some warning that the concert might cause as many as 20,000 new cases.

If it were to materialise, the prospected scenario would significantly aggravate Lazio’s present medical predicament as there are currently over 186,000 Covid cases in the region (nearly 800 patients are receiving treatment in local hospitals). 

Italian rock band Maneskin performing in Turin

Italian rock band Maneskin are expected to perform at the Circus Maximus in Rome on Saturday, July 9th. Photo by Marco BERTORELLO / AFP

But, despite pleas to postpone the event, it is likely that Maneskin’s concert will take place as scheduled.

Alessandro Onorato, Rome’s Tourism Councillor, said that rescheduling is “out of question” and that “all recommendations from the local medical authorities will be adopted” with the help of the event’s organisers and staff on the ground.

At the time of writing, there is also no indication that the Italian government will consider postponing other major live events scheduled to take place in the coming weeks, though the situation is evolving rapidly and a U-turn on previous dispositions can’t be ruled out.

READ ALSO: At a glance: What are the Covid-19 rules in Italy now?

On this note, it is worth mentioning that Italy has now scrapped all of its former Covid measures except the requirement to wear FFP2 face masks on public transport (though not on planes) and in healthcare settings.

The use of face coverings is, however, still recommended in all crowded areas, including outdoors – exactly the point that leading Italian doctors are stressing in the hope that live events will not lead to large-scale infection.

Antonio Magi, President of Rome’s OMCEO (College of Doctors, Surgeons and Dentists), said: “Our advice is to wear FFP2 masks […] in high-risk situations.”

“I hope that young people will heed our recommendations and think about the health risks that their parents or grandparents might be exposed to after the event [they attend].”

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