Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte warned Italians on Thursday that they should avoid “hugs and kisses” at Christmas to help contain the coronavirus, as the country struggles to curb a spike in deaths and infections.
Italy registered 36,176 new cases and 653 deaths related to Covid-19 over the past 24 hours with the northern Lombardy region, centered in the financial capital Milan, once again bearing the bulk of the contagion.
Much of Italy has been partially isolated to try to slow the outbreak, with the restrictions remaining in effect until at least December 3.
Shop owners and restaurateurs are pinning their hopes on a revival of business around the usually busy Christmas period to revive their damaged fortunes, but Conte said in his speech there would not be a return to normal anytime soon.
“We have to spend the party in a wiser way. Big parties, kisses and hugs will not be possible, this means the curve (of infection) increased suddenly in January, “he said, adding:” We hope we can still buy and exchange gifts. “
Italy has seen 47,870 deaths from Covid-19 since its outbreak emerged in February, Europe’s second highest death toll after Britain. 1.309 million cases were also recorded.
The number of excess deaths surged in October, with the death rate more than 20 percent higher in a series of major cities across the country compared with the previous five-year average, health ministry data released on Thursday showed.
Covid-19-related deaths have more than doubled in November compared to October, hitting a high of 753 on November 18.
Italy managed to beat the first wave of the epidemic in the spring thanks to the stiff national lockdown between March and April, and removed most of the pre-summer restrictions as cases continued to decline.
However, the fall has brought a resurgence of infections and while the initial outbreak was largely confined to the north, the second wave has hit nearly every region hard, bringing healthcare to a breaking point.