Italy records sharp increase in Covid patients in intensive care

Italy's latest health data showed that the trend of falling intensive care admissions had reversed in the past week, while the number of new infections continues to rise.

The number of Covid patients in Italy's ntensive care units had been falling for over two months.
The number of Covid patients in Italy's ntensive care units had been falling for over two months. Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP

The number of Covid-19 patients in Italian intensive care units increased by 12.9 percent in the period from October 27-November 2, the independent Gimbe foundation for evidence-based medicine said in its weekly report on Thursday.

The number of patients in intensive care units had been steadily dropping since the end of August.

Italy also recorded another rise in the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases (+16.6 percent) and an increase in the number of patients with coronavirus being admitted to hospital (+14.9 percent), data from the health ministry showed.

The number of Covid-related deaths in the last week was relatively stable at 257, compared to 249 the previous week.

The report stressed that pressure on health services remained relatively low, with the proportion of ordinary hospital wards and intensive care beds occupied by Covid patients at five percent and four percent respectively nationwide, with regional differences.

READ ALSO: Which Italian regions have the highest Covid vaccination rates?

taly’s Covid emergency commissioner General Francesco Figlioilo stated on Thursday that “the growth in infections does not correspond, for now, to a proportional increase in hospitalizations”

He said the country’s vaccination campaign “is proving to be decisive in limiting severe forms of disease, with positive impact on the hospital system”.

However, the number of people being vaccinated against Covid-19 continued to fall this week (by -39.6 percent) with the number of people receiving a first jab now at roughly 20,000 a day.

READ ALSO: Why are Covid infections in Italy rising?

In the over-60s, Gimbe’s report noted the first signs of a “reduction in the effectiveness of the vaccine against serious disease”.

“The vaccine’s efficacy on serious illness is confirmed to be very high, but with a slight and progressive decrease,” the report stated.

The report said faster administration of third vaccine doses was needed in order to prevent an increase in serious cases among the most vulnerable this winter.

Health authorities are now recommending a booster shot to all risk groups and those over 60, as well as healthcare workers and care home staff. However, the take-up of third doses has so far been limited.

Italy is likely to make a third dose available to all from January.

The government recently set a new target of fully vaccinating 90 percent of the eligible population, and is reportedly considering making jabs mandatory for more groups as vaccine take-up continues to slow.

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Italy pushes for more vaccinations as Covid incidence rate rises sharply

Italy’s health authorities reported another worsening of the health situation over the past week, with case incidence numbers rising further.

The city of Trieste in the Friuli Venezia Giulia region is currently one of the areas with the highest Covid incidence rates in Italy.
The city of Trieste in the Friuli Venezia Giulia region is currently one of the areas with the highest Covid incidence rates in Italy. Photo: Miguel Medina/AFP

The new coronavirus data monitoring report from Italy’s health ministry and the Higher Health Institute (ISS) released on Friday showed that  the nationwide incidence of coronavirus cases had risen to 78 per 100,000 inhabitants in the week ended November 11th, up from 53 in the week ended November 4th 

The new figures also show that the country’s Rt rose to 1.21 between October 20th and November 2nd, up from 1.15 the week before.

An Rt number above 1 indicates that the epidemic is in a phase of expansion.

READ ALSO: Is Italy likely to bring back Covid restrictions this Christmas?

While the number of residents taking rapid antigen tests has spiked in recent weeks following a mandate for all workers produce an Italian health certificate or ‘green pass’ to access their workplace, the Rt is thought to be unaffected, as only symptomatic cases and hospitalisations are taken into account in calculating the number, reports news agency Ansa.

Green passes are available to everyone who is vaccinated or recently recovered from Covid-19, but can also be obtained by getting a negative test. The requirement to produce a green pass has been in place for all workers in Italy since October 15th.

The occupancy of hospital beds by Covid patients has also risen marginally in the last couple of weeks, to 6.1 percent general ward and 4.4 percent intensive care occupancy as of November 11th, up from 5.3 percent general ward occupancy on October 28th and 4 percent ICU occupancy on November 4th.

The occupancy rates currently remain below those needed to trigger an alert that would require a given Italian region to return from the least-restricted ‘white zone’ to the more restricted ‘yellow zone’ rules.

READ ALSO: Italy’s fourth Covid wave ‘can be reduced’, says health expert


Italy’s government has said a region must face increased restrictions when Covid patient occupancy of ICU beds reaches 10 percent and occupancy of general hospital wards reaches 15 percent; and when case incidence rates are at 50 per 100,000 inhabitants.

Friuli Venezia Giulia is currently considered at high risk of being returned to yellow zone rules, while 20 other regions and autonomous provinces are at moderate risk, reports Ansa. Calabria is the only region classed as low risk.

With millions of Italian residents yet to receive a first dose of the coronavirus vaccine, Italy’s politicians and health experts say that more coverage is needed to keep the numbers down.

To stop the curve from rising further “we need to increase first vaccinations among those who have not had it,” said Franco Locatelli, head of the Italian government’s Scientific Technical Committee (CTS), at a press conference last Friday, adding that medical personnel and the elderly also needed to get their boosters to prevent immunity from waning. 

The health ministry now plans to roll out more booster shots as well as aiming to have 90 percent of the eligible population vaccinated.

Health Minister Roberto Speranza said on Wednesday that third doses will be extended to those aged between 40-59 from December 1st.

READ ALSO: How to get a Covid-19 vaccine booster shot in Italy

“We started with the immuno-compromised, the frail, health workers, over 60s and those who had J&J who can have booster shots after six months,” Speranza said in answer to a question in Parliament, news agency Ansa reports.

He said administering more booster shots was “absolutely strategic for our vaccine campaign”.

Health authorities are reportedly aiming to start offering the booster to all age groups from early 2022.