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More people died in Italy in 2020 than in any year since World War II

Italy suffered its highest number of deaths since World War II last year due to the coronavirus pandemic with over 100,000 deaths more than average, according to new figures released on Friday.

More people died in Italy in 2020 than in any year since World War II
A cemetery in Bergamo, one of Italy's worst-hit regions. Photo: Miguel Medina/AFP

“The demographic picture of our country has undergone a profound change because of the impact of Covid-19 deaths,” national statistic agency Istat said in a new report.

“In 2020, total deaths reached 746,146, the highest number ever recorded since World War II, with an increase on the 2015-2019 average of more than 100,000 (+ 15.6 percent).”

READ ALSO: ‘The pain of an entire nation’: Italy marks first day of remembrance for Covid-19 dead

Daily updated health ministry data on the number of people with Covid-19 who have died since the pandemic put the toll at 74,000 by December 31st 2020. Istat did not account for the discrepancy between the two figures.

The total number of Covid-19-related deaths has now reached more than 100,0000 as Italy — the first European country to face the full force of the pandemic 13 months ago — faces a fresh wave of infections.

The Istat figures show Italy’s northern regions, which were hit first and hardest, have suffered the biggest increases in so-called excess deaths.

Alongside these grim figures came a record low in the number of births — at 404,104, down 3.8 percent from 2019 — accelerating a trend towards a declining population.

READ ALSO: Twelve statistics that show how the pandemic has hit Italy’s quality of life

The resident population of Italy fell by around 384,000 in 2020 compared to the previous year, “as if a big city like Florence had disappeared”, wrote Istat. As of December 31st 2020, Italy’s population was 59,257,566, down 0.6 percent over 12 months.

“The new record low number of births (404,000) and the high number of deaths (746,000), never experienced since the Second World War, accelerate the negative natural dynamic that characterises our country,” Istat said.

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TRAVEL NEWS

Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

The mandatory EU-wide mask requirement for air travel is set to be dropped from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still require passengers to wear masks on some or all flights

Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

Europe-wide facemask rules on flights are set to be ditched as early as next week in light of new recommendations from health and air safety experts.

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) dropped recommendations for mandatory mask-wearing in airports and during flights in updated Covid-19 safety measures for travel issued on Wednesday, May 11th.

The new rules are expected to be rolled out from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still continue to require the wearing of masks on some or all of flights. And the updated health safety measures still say that wearing a face mask remains one of the best ways to protect against the transmission of the virus.

The joint EASA/ECDC statement reminded travellers that masks may still be required on flights to destinations in certain countries that still require the wearing of masks on public transport and in transport hubs.

It also recommends that vulnerable passengers should continue to wear a face mask regardless of the rules, ideally an FFP2/N95/KN95 type mask which offers a higher level of protection than a standard surgical mask.

“From next week, face masks will no longer need to be mandatory in air travel in all cases, broadly aligning with the changing requirements of national authorities across Europe for public transport,” EASA executive director Patrick Ky said in the statement. 

“For passengers and air crews, this is a big step forward in the normalisation of air travel. Passengers should however behave responsibly and respect the choices of others around them. And a passenger who is coughing and sneezing should strongly consider wearing a face mask, for the reassurance of those seated nearby.”  

ECDC director Andrea Ammon added: “The development and continuous updates to the Aviation Health Safety Protocol in light of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic have given travellers and aviation personnel better knowledge of the risks of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and its variants. 

“While risks do remain, we have seen that non-pharmaceutical interventions and vaccines have allowed our lives to begin to return to normal. 

“While mandatory mask-wearing in all situations is no longer recommended, it is important to be mindful that together with physical distancing and good hand hygiene it is one of the best methods of reducing transmission. 

“The rules and requirements of departure and destination states should be respected and applied consistently, and travel operators should take care to inform passengers of any required measures in a timely manner.”

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