Italy Passes 100,000 Coronavirus Deaths as New Curbs Planned

Italy’s total coronavirus-related deaths surpassed 100,000 on Monday as a resurgence in the pandemic prompts Mario Draghi’s government to consider additional restrictions.

Italy became the sixth country to reach 100,000 deaths from the virus, one year after it was the first Western nation to enter into a lockdown. Daily infections are accelerating and reached a three-month high last week, pushing total cases above 3 million.

Draghi, who earlier called the 100,000 fatality level something “we never could have imagined” a year ago, pledged at a Rome conference Monday to turn around Italy’s slow vaccination campaign. An exit from the pandemic isn’t far away if the country can move faster on inoculations, the premier said.

“The pandemic is not yet defeated but we can glimpse, with the acceleration of the vaccine plan, an exit path which is not distant,” Draghi said. The premier said he’s committed to “safeguarding health, supporting those in difficulty, favoring economic recovery and accelerating reforms.” Italy’s economy contracted 8.9% last year.

The government has already extended existing restrictions, including a ban on travel between regions and a nighttime curfew. Draghi’s administration, advised by a panel of scientific and medical experts, is now considering a hard lockdown for several regions while accelerating vaccinations, according to an official who asked not to be cited by name as the discussions are confidential.

Milan and its surrounding region of Lombardy have already shut down all schools, bars and restaurants and ordered citizens not to leave their municipalities for anything other than work or health-related reasons.

Red Zones

Options on the table at national level include making more regions high-risk “red” zones, possibly for about three weeks.

Regions could automatically be moved into the red category if the threshold of 250 weekly virus cases per 100,000 inhabitants is breached. Tighter curbs could also include an earlier curfew and closing shops and malls in areas where schools are shut, the official said.

Health Minister Roberto Speranza told state-owned broadcaster Rai on Sunday that the government is targeting inoculations by summer for all Italians who want them, though only 2.7% of the population has been fully vaccinated so far.

Daily fatalities were 318 Monday, taking the total to 100,103, with 13,902 cases. Deaths haven’t risen as fast as infections, partly because the average age of cases has dropped to 44 years.

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