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Roundup: Italy's coronavirus infection rate hits 13-month high as Delta, Omicron variants spread

Dec 23, 2021

Rome (Italy), December 23: Italy's coronavirus infection rate on Wednesday surged to its highest level in more than a year despite its already strong vaccination program, while the Delta and Omicron variants of the coronavirus spread in the country.
On Wednesday, the country reported more than 36,000 new infections over a 24-hour period, the second consecutive day with more than 30,000 infections and the highest daily infection number since November 2020.
There were 146 deaths recorded over the last day, down slightly from the previous day but the second consecutive day that saw more than 100 coronavirus deaths.
The number of hospitalized patients and those in intensive-care units also hit multi-month highs this week and the total number of active cases in the country was approaching 400,000, a level last seen in April. During the summer, the total number of active cases had dropped to a tenth that level.
La Stampa, a leading newspaper, said that pediatric wards are also filling with children infected by COVID-19. The paper said that more than half of those hospitalized children came from homes where parents were unvaccinated.
According to TG24, a television news channel, the infection rate in Italy is now 4.7, which shows the virus is now spreading aggressively in Italy.
Government health officials urged residents to follow coronavirus safety precautions as the Delta and Omicron variants spread in the country.
Prime Minister Mario Draghi on Wednesday called for the country's vaccine-hesitant residents to get vaccinated.
"Three-quarters of the (coronavirus deaths in Italy) come from the unvaccinated," Draghi said.
Sergio Abrignani, a leading Italian immunologist, called for a mandatory vaccination campaign, according to Il Fatto Quotidiano, a news site. Abrignani called the spread of the newer, highly mutated Omicron variant "explosive" and said it was time for the government to take "extraordinary steps" to slow the viruses' spread.
"If we don't issue a mandatory vaccine rule now, when would we do it?" Abrignani asked.
Unlike previous waves of the pandemic, where most hot spots were concentrated in the densely-populated northern part of the country, this wave is more evenly spread across the country, and it comes despite Italy's nearly one-year-old vaccine campaign.
As of Wednesday, the country had fully vaccinated more than 46 million people, the equivalent to 85.5 percent of the population over the age of 12.
On Wednesday, the Italian Medicines Agency (AIFA) approved the Novavax for use in Italy starting in January.
AIFA said Novavax would be a new option for those who had so far not been vaccinated. Novavax, developed in the United States, will be the fifth vaccine approved for distribution in Italy, joining the vaccines from Pfizer and BioNTech, AstraZeneca, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson.
Source: Xinhua