The province’s fast-growing caseload contributed to another increase in cases reported nationally: Italy added 19,886 confirmed infections on Thursday, the highest daily figure since early January. Authorities reported another 308 virus-related deaths, bringing the country’s official number in the pandemic to just under 97,000.
Brescia, with a population of around 1.2 million, has seen its daily cases go from the mid-100s in early February to 901 on Wednesdays and 973 Thursdays, due to clusters of infections traced to British variants. Doctors said the number of COVID-19 patients being treated at major public hospitals rose from an average of around 200 to 300 recently.
“We can’t talk about the third wave from our point of view, just because the second wave never really ends,” said Dr. Cristiano Perani, head of the emergency room at the General Hospital of Brescia. “The increase is gradual, but has increased acceleration in recent weeks. “
The governor of Lombardy, Attilio Fontana, said he informed Italy‘s health the minister said Thursday that the region needs “immediate delivery of (vaccine) in a region where the virus is developing.”
Lombardy, Italy’s most populous region, has imposed a new lockdown on Brescia and is changing its vaccine strategy to direct the jabs it has on nearby provinces and cities in neighboring Bergamo. The goal of this strategy is to inoculate as many people as possible as quickly as possible in the worst affected areas.
Guido Bertolaso, who is in charge of the vaccine campaign, said the region would pass the 30% reserve the national government recommended to remain available for the second dose, and that from Thursday it would start vaccinating residents aged 60-79, much earlier than. scheduled. Lombardy recently began vaccinating people over 80, after giving health care workers and residents of nursing homes a priority.
The goal of the strategy, Bertolaso said, is to create “health care” in the area with blanket vaccinations. This approach is based on studies from the UK and Israel – and even on the Lombardy data itself – which showed reduced infection rates as more people were vaccinated with just one dose.
“This is war,” Bertolaso said.
Brescia’s deputy mayor, Laura Castelletti, said residents were willing to accept the new lockdown measures – which include the closure of all schools and child care centers – as long as the vaccination schedule accelerates.
“We are ready to make sacrifices if the vaccination campaign runs 24/7,” he said.
Brescia and Bergamo were the two Italian provinces hardest hit during the first wave of the pandemic, which started this time last year and quickly turned Lombardy into the epicenter of the spread in Europe.
Lombardy as a whole still accounts for nearly a third of Italy’s 96,974 confirmed COVID-19 deaths, and a fifth of the 2.87 million confirmed infections. Italy has the sixth highest confirmed death toll in the world, and the second in Europe after Britain.
The Italian vaccine campaign, which has delivered 3.92 million doses, has been slowed by delays in deliveries from three EU supplying pharmaceutical companies: Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca.
It was not immediately clear whether the health ministry would direct any vaccine to Lombardy, given the previously established quota that had provided the most doses there.
Italy’s virus czar, Domenico Arcuri, did not respond to Fontana’s request in a statement on Thursday but boasted that the injections showed a “comforting increase” this week, averaging around 100,000 a day nationwide.
Nearly two months after Italy began its vaccination campaign on December 27, the tiny Republic of San Marino gave its first dose on Thursday. San Marino, a city-state of about 33,800 people surrounded by Italy, had to buy a dose of Russia’s Sputnik V after a delay in receiving the dose administered from Italy.
“This is the most effective weapon we have against this disease,” said Dr. Enrico Rossi, who was among the first to be inoculated. “It’s kind of a nightmare this year but we hope it will end.”
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