Italy’s Covid-19 cases hit their highest level in months this week as manufacturing problems caused the vaccine to reach Italy at a slower-than-expected pace, forcing several regions to return to lockdown to prevent another spike in one of the world’s hardest-hit countries. .
Italy reported more than 24,000 new coronavirus infections on Friday, the biggest one-day increase in three months and nearly double the country’s daily infection rate for early February, according to government figures.
Italian officials have blame this last wave on the more contagious variant of the coronavirus first discovered in Britain, which has swept Italian schools and became a country dominant strain last month.
The country is still far below its peak last fall: In November and early December, Italy reported more than 40,000 cases and 800 deaths over several days.
About 5.2 million coronavirus vaccines have been given in Italy so far, or 8.7 doses per 100 people, roughly in line to the EU average but less than half the US vaccination rate. Italy views vaccines as a way to get out of its latest spike, but the EU-wide vaccination effort – which negotiates a vaccine deal for all member states as a bloc – has been mired in unexpected production delays. Italian Government block AstraZeneca of a dose sent to Australia this week, and Lombardy officials have pleaded with the government to send extra dose to the region.
99,578. That’s the total number of coronavirus deaths that Italy has reported since the start of the pandemic. The Italian plague is second deadliest in Europe in terms of total mortality, after Great Britain, and the sixth deadliest in the world.
Last spring, Italy was a country the first country outside of China to grapple with a major coronavirus outbreak. The country quickly imposed strict lockdowns and travel restrictions, causing cases to subside over the summer, but months after officials lifted the lockdown, hospitals filled and death jumped again in the fall. The country has abandoned some of its travel and social distancing restrictions in the place since last fall’s peak, but the emergence of a new variant has public health experts worried about the third wave of infections and deaths.
Coronavirus infections increased across Europe last week, including in Poland and Czech Republic, a trend World Health Organization blamed on new variants and an increasing tendency to relax the habit of keeping your distance.