Coronavirus cases in Italy are now rising in large part due to the more infectious British variant, a top virologist warned this week.
“Obviously, I'm worried,” Massimo Galli, a specialist based at the Sacco de Milan hospital, told Il Messaggero on Monday.
“The resurgence in infections is due in large part to the English variant,” he added. “To be honest, all the data is going in the direction of a rise in new cases.”
A new study by Italy's National Research Council (CNR) points to variants as the likely source of up to 50 percent of the recent increase in cases.
Dr. Rosalio Corrado Spinella, director of the CNR's Department of Physical Sciences, told La Repubblica on Monday: “in the regions which have seen the most rapid increase in cases, such as Abruzzo, Marche, Tuscany and Umbria as well as in the autonomous provinces of Trento and Bolzano, the variants of Sars-Cov-2 may be responsible for between 40 and 50 percent of the total of positives,”
“This trend is increasing,” he warned, adding that: “Emilia-Romagna and Lombardy are starting to show an increase in hospitalized cases due to the presence of the more transmissible variants.”
Unless further containment measures are announced soon, Spinella said, “in regions where the variant is found to account for at least 50 percent of cases, the more contagious variant will almost completely replace the 'standard' version within a month and a half from today.”
Analysis of offical data on Wednsday showed that the regions and autonomous provinces which recorded the sharpest rise in cases over the past 24 hours were Bolzano, Trento, Friuli Venezia Giulia and Abruzzo.
Valle D'Aosta has the lowest rate of new infections, followed by Sardinia.
New coronavirus cases by region within the past 24 hours, as of Wednesday February 24th. Map: Antonio Caramia
The Italian health minister on Wednesday stated that the country would not be relaxing any rules under the next coronavirus emergency decree, due March 5th, as infection rates remain too high nationwide.
Restrictons need to stay in place while studies are carried out to determine the risks posed by new variants, he said.
As of Wednesday, Italy has registered 96,666 coronavirus deaths from 2.9 million cases.
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