Italy reports 2,500 new coronavirus cases in a day for the first time since April

Italy on Thursday reported its highest daily number of new Covid-19 cases in the past five months, as a record number of tests were carried out.

Italy reports 2,500 new coronavirus cases in a day for the first time since April
Rome's Lazio region is now one of the worst-hit parts of Italy as cases rise again. Photo: AFP

Italian health authorities recorded 2,548 new cases of coronavirus detected within the past 24 hours on Thursday – a significant increase from 1,851 on Wednesday.

This was the first time the number of new cases has exceeded 2,000 since the end of April, shortly before Italy began loosening its lockdown rules.

READ ALSO: 'A difficult 7-8 months ahead' Italian health minister warns public

Health authorities carried out a record number of tests in the 24-hour period: 118,236, about 13 thousand more than the day before.

Hospitalisations continue to rise steadily, with 291 patients now in intensive care, an increase of 11 in 24 hours.
There were 24 deaths recorded on Thursday, meaning the overall Italian death toll is now 35,918.

The total number of infected people since the beginning of the emergency rises to 317,409. 
Earlier on Thursday, Italian health minister Roberto Speranza warned the public to expect “a difficult 7-8 months ahead” and urged people to keep following the rules.
“In the months ahead, in which we do not have the Covid vaccine or cure, we will need correct behaviour from people,” he said, adding “that is what enabled us to bring down the curve in previous months”.
“The Italians, against every stereotype that we have had to deal with, have been the most orderly, loyal, and extraordinary country ever seen,” added the minister.
His words came after Italian prime minister Giuseppe Conte confirmed on Thursday that the government plans to extend the current state of emergency until January 31st, 2021 – one year since it was first introduced.
The numbers have been rising in Italy since the end of July, with recent spikes in the infection rate in some areas including the city of Naples, which recently ordered that masks must be worn in public at all times in response to the uptick in infections.
The Lazio region is expected to announce similar rules on mask-wearing in public, the Ansa news agency reported.
Italian officials continue to recommend social distancing and frequent hand-washing, and there are strict rules on mask-wearing in the country.
It remains mandatory to wear a mask outside between 6pm and 6am. The rule applies in all areas where there's a risk of crowding, like busy squares and streets lined with bars.

Police regularly patrol to enforce the rules and there are fines of up to €400 if you fail to comply.

You can follow all of The Local's latest updates on the coronavirus situation in Italy here.

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Is Italy’s government planning to scrap all Covid measures?

The new Italian government has announced the end of some remaining Covid health measures. Here's a look at what will - and won't - change.

Is Italy’s government planning to scrap all Covid measures?

Few Covid-related restrictions remain in Italy today, six months after the nationwide ‘state of emergency’ ended.

The previous government had kept only a handful of precautionary measures in place – which the new government, led by Giorgia Meloni, must now decide whether or not to keep.

The cabinet is holding a meeting on Monday and will issue a decree this week detailing any changes to the health measures.

Many expect the government to scrap all measures entirely by the end of the year, after Meloni and her party criticised the way Mario Draghi’s administration handled the pandemic throughout its tenure. 

Meloni clearly stated in her first address to parliament last Tuesday that “we will not replicate the model of the previous government” when it comes to managing Covid.

READ ALSO: Five key points from Meloni’s first speech as new Italian PM

While she acknowledged that Italy could be hit by another Covid wave, or another pandemic, she did not say how her government would deal with it.

Meanwhile, new health minister Orazio Schillaci issued a statement on Friday confirming the end of several existing measures, saying he “considers it appropriate to initiate a progressive return to normality in activities and behaviour”.

Workplace ban for unvaccinated medical staff

Schillaci confirmed that the ministry will allow doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals to return to work after being suspended because they refuse to get vaccinated against Covid-19.

Those who refuse vaccination will be “reintegrated” into the workforce before the rule expires at the end of this year, as part of what the minister called a “gradual return to normality”.

They will be allowed to return “in light of the worrying shortage of medical and health personnel” and “considering the trend of Covid infections”, the statement said.

Fines issued to healthcare staff aged over 50 who refused vaccination would also be cancelled, it added.

There were some 1,579 doctors and dentists refusing vaccination at the end of October, representing 0.3 percent of all those registered with Italy’s National Federation of the Orders of Physicians, Surgeons and Dentists (Fnomceo) 

Daily Covid data reports

Schillaci also confirmed in the statement that the health ministry will no longer release daily updates on Covid-19 contagion rates, hospital cases and deaths, saying this would be replaced by a weekly update.

It said it would however make the data available at any time to relevant authorities.

Mask requirement in hospitals to stay?

The requirement to wear face masks in hospitals, care homes and other healthcare facilities expires on Monday, October 31st.

At a meeting on the same day the government is expected to decide whether to extend the measure.

READ ALSO: What can we expect from Italy’s new government?

While the government had looked at scrapping the requirement, it reportedly changed stance at the last minute on Monday after facing heavy criticism from health experts.

Media reports published while the meeting was in progress on Monday said government sources had indicated the measure would in fact be extended.

Confirmation is expected to come later on Monday.

Italy’s face mask rules in care homes and healthcare facilities are up for renewal. Photo by Thierry ZOCCOLAN / AFP

‘Green pass’ health certificate

There is no indication that the new government plans to bring back any requirements to show a ‘green pass’: the digital certificate proving vaccination against or recent recovery from Covid, or a negative test result.

The pass is currently only required for entry to healthcare facilities and care homes, and this is expected to remain the case.

‘Dismantling the measures’

Some of the confirmed changes were strongly criticised by Italy’s most prominent healthcare experts.

Head of the Gimbe association for evidence-based medicine, Nino Cartabellotta, said the focus on cancelling fines for unvaccinated healthcare workers was “irrelevant from a health point of view .. but unscientific and highly diseducative”.

He told news agency Ansa it was “absolutely legitimate” for a new government to discontinue the previous administration’s measures, but that this “must also be used to improve everything that the previous government was unable to do”.

The government should prioritise “more analytical collection of data on hospitalised patients, investments in ventilation systems for enclosed rooms … accelerating coverage with vaccine boosters,” he said.

However, the plan at the moment appeared to be “a mere dismantling of the measures in place,” he said, “in the illusory attempt to consign the pandemic to oblivion, ignoring the recommendations of the international public health authorities”.