Italian health ministry data released on Thursday showed the highest daily number of infections seen in the country since the start of the pandemic,
A record 44.595 new coronavirus cases were confirmed in the past 24 hours – a sharp increase from the 36,293 reported on Wednesday.
The previous record daily number of infections was 40,902, recorded on November 13th, 2020.
The figure can be partly explained by a large increase in the number of tests carried out in the last 24 hours: more than 901,000, compared to 779,000 on Wednesday.
The test positivity rate was up to 4.9 percent, from 4.6 percent the day before.
There were 168 deaths from Covid-19 in the past 24 hours, while on November 13th last year the figure was 550, noted Italian news agency Ansa.
Hospitalisation figures are also lower by comparison today – though the numbers of Covid patients in both intensive care and other hospital wards continue to rise daily.
There are 1,023 Covid patients in Italy’s ICU units (compared to 3,230 last November) and 8,722 in other wards (compared to 30,914).
Some 430,029 people in Italy are currently positive, 27,300 more than yesterday, health ministry data showed,
The Lombardy region, which has been the worst-affected part of Italy since the start of the pandemic, saw its own record of 12,955 confirmed cases on Thursday.
However the region, like most others in Italy, remains a low-risk ‘white’ zone with minimal health measures in place.
The Omicron variant is known to be behind 28 percent of the infections recorded in Italy, or more than one in four, Italy’s Higher Health Institute (ISS) said earlier on Thursday.
The Italian government is meeting on Thursday evening to agree on tighter health measures intended to stem the latest Covid wave.
A new decree is expected to focus mainly on tightening the rules on wearing masks and using Italy’s ‘green pass’ Covid health certificate, and also on extending the country’s current vaccine mandate to more groups, with Draghi stressing on Wednesday that “vaccines remain the best weapon we have against the virus”.
For more information about the current Covid-19 situation in Italy please see the Italian health ministry’s website (available in English).