Italy reports over 25,000 new coronavirus cases, more regions set to tighten restrictions

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A woman wearing a face mask walks past the Colosseum in Rome, Italy, Nov. 4, 2020. [Photo/Xinhua]

Italy registered 25,271 new coronavirus cases over the last 24 hours, marking a moderate slowdown compared to the 32,616 new cases reported a day earlier, the Health Ministry said Monday.

The total number of active cases in the country thus reached 573,334, the vast majority of which (542,849) are currently isolated at home with no or mild symptoms.

The number of patients in intensive care units, however, grew by 100 on Monday against the previous day, reaching 2,849, the latest data showed.

A total of 10,215 new recoveries were recorded, pushing the total to 345,289 since the pandemic broke out in Italy in late February.

Monday also saw 356 new fatalities, which brought the country's death toll to 41,750.

Overall, the number of assessed COVID-19 cases reached 960,373.

The latest data came as more regions were expected to implement tougher restrictions, after the cabinet, regional governors, and the government's advising technical-scientific committee (CTS) met in the afternoon to assess the overall pandemic picture provided by the National Institute of Health (ISS).

The central regions of Abruzzo, Umbria, and Toscana, plus northern Liguria, and southern Basilicata are to be declared "orange zones" -- meaning they are now considered at middle risk, Abruzzo governor Marco Marsilio told Ansa news agency citing Health Minister Roberto Speranza as the source.

"The provision that the minister is about to sign in the evening will enter into force by Wednesday," the governor said.

To tackle the second wave of the pandemic, the government on Friday introduced a three-tiered system that split the country into three zones -- yellow, or low risk; orange, or medium risk; and red, or high risk -- according to the level of virus transmission and the situation of the public health system in each region.

Implemented along with a national curfew from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m., this system would stay in force until Dec. 3 at least.

So far, four regions were put into the red zone -- northern Lombardy, Piedmont, Aosta Valley, and southern Calabria -- and subjected to restrictions equal to a soft lockdown.

The authorities of northeast South Tyrol in the Trentino region also declared the province to be into the red zone, with an autonomous decision on Monday.

Southern Apulia and Sicily were the only two regions put into the orange zone so far, and had to implement milder restrictions, while the rest of the country remained in the yellow zone.

The efforts to slow down the surge in the pandemic curve across the country according to the different situations at the regional level were expected to produce results in some weeks.

However, the Health Ministry, the ISS epidemiologists, and the CTS experts were in a constant assessment of the curve, and did not rule out possible adjustments to the current policy.

"The epidemiological situation keeps worsening, and we register an RT of about 1.7 ... We have some 500 cases per 100,000 inhabitants and almost all regions are heavily affected," Giovanni Rezza, General Director of Prevention at the Health Ministry and head of the ISS Infectious Disease Department, told local media on Monday.

The RT value shows the average number of people that one person positive for COVID-19 is expected to infect.

Also on Monday, the head of the country's Federation of Medical Associations (FNOMCeO) warned the restrictions attached to the three-tiered system might not be enough, and the country should rather resort to a second national lockdown.

"Considering the last seven day's data as a typical trend, and projecting them without even foreseeing further increases, we will face a dramatic situation within a month," FNOMCeO president Filippo Anelli told Ansa news agency.

As the world is struggling to contain the pandemic, countries around the world -- including Italy, France, China, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States -- are racing to find a vaccine.

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