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HEALTH

Covid-19: Italy plans new restrictions as death toll tops 100,000

Italy on Monday surpassed 100,000 coronavirus deaths, amid warnings the spread of new variants is fuelling a third wave of infections.

Covid-19: Italy plans new restrictions as death toll tops 100,000
Photo by Filippo Monteforte/AFP

The health ministry recorded another 318 Covid-19 fatalities over the last 24 hours, taking the official total to 100,103 just over a year since the first death was recorded in northern Italy.

Some 13,902 new cases were detected, the ministry said, down from 20,765 on Sunday. Numbers tend to drop on Mondays due to lower testing and reporting rates at weekends.

The total number of confirmed cases since the start of the epidemic is now 3,081,368.

Last week, the GIMBE health think tank warned that Italy had entered a third wave of contagions, as health data confirmed a sharp increase in infection numbers.

Weekly infection numbers rose by a third to more than 123,000 cases between February 24th and March 2nd, the highest since early December.

As hospital intensive care units are again coming under pressure, the government is also considering increased nationwide restrictions, from extending the current evening curfew to a national lockdown, according to media reports.

READ ALSO: Lockdown by next week? These are the new Covid restrictions Italy is considering 

Additional measures could be announced by Friday if the infection rate rises again this week.

“With these numbers we need stricter measures,” Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio wrote on Facebook, adding: “There is no alternative to stricter measures.”

A poll published on the weekend by the Corriere della Sera newspaper suggested that 44 per cent of Italians would back a strict lockdown, up from 30 per cent two weeks earlier.

Tighter restrictions took effect on Monday in Campania, which includes Naples, which joined Basilicata and Molise in the list of “red” regions under lockdown.

Lockdowns have also been enforced at more local level in dozens of provinces and cities – leading to the closure of bars, restaurants, most shops, and of all schools including nurseries.

‘Mini red zones’: Where are Italy’s local coronavirus lockdowns? 

Face-to-face learning is now off for almost six million students, around two thirds of the total, according to website Tuttoscuola.com.

Health minister Roberto Speranza said more red zones are likely to be declared across the country on Friday under the current system of regional and local measures.

“We’re monitoring the curve and checking which measures are most appropriate,” he said on Monday. “I expect the variants to have an impact and that more regions will go red.”

According to Italy’s higher Health Institute (ISS), at least 54% of all cases in Italy are now caused by the so-called English variant

This variant is able to spread 35-40% faster than the original strain, the ISS said.

Italy’s vaccine programme has made slow progress so far, although the government last week announced a plan to speed up vaccinations significantly between March and June.

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HEALTH

WHO expects more monkeypox-related deaths in Europe

The World Health Organization's European office said Saturday that more monkeypox-related deaths can be expected, following reports of the first fatalities outside Africa, while stressing that severe complications were still be rare.

WHO expects more monkeypox-related deaths in Europe

“With the continued spread of monkeypox in Europe, we will expect to see more deaths,” Catherine Smallwood, Senior Emergency Officer at WHO Europe, said in a statement.

Smallwood emphasised that the goal needs to be “interrupting transmission quickly in Europe and stopping this outbreak”.

However, Smallwood stressed that in most cases the disease heals itself without the need for treatment.

“The notification of deaths due to monkeypox does not change our assessment of the outbreak in Europe. We know that although self-limiting in most cases, monkeypox can cause severe complications,” Smallwood noted.

The Spanish health ministry recorded a second monkeypox-related death on Saturday, a day after Spain and Brazil reported their first fatalities.

The announcements marked what are thought to be the first deaths linked to the current outbreak outside Africa.

Spanish authorities would not give the specific cause of death for the fatalities pending the outcome of an autopsy, while Brazilian authorities underlined that the man who died had “other serious conditions”.

“The usual reasons patients might require hospital care include help in managing pain, secondary infections, and in a small number of cases the need to manage life-threatening complications such as encephalitis,” Smallwood explained.

According to the WHO, more than 18,000 cases have been detected throughout the world outside of Africa since the beginning of May, with the majority of them in Europe.

The WHO last week declared the monkeypox outbreak a global health emergency.

As cases surge globally, the WHO on Wednesday called on the group currently most affected by the virus — men who have sex with men — to limit their sexual partners.

Early signs of the disease include a high fever, swollen lymph glands and a chickenpox-like rash.

The disease usually heals by itself after two to three weeks, sometimes taking a month.

A smallpox vaccine from Danish drug maker Bavarian Nordic, marketed under the name Jynneos in the United States and Imvanex in Europe, has also been found to protect against monkeypox.

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