Rome, Feb 19 The main indicators for the coronavirus pandemic in Italy continued to improve gradually while strategies for combatting the virus' spread were under review as a new government took the reins of power in the country.
Data released on Thursday by the health ministry showed that the country recorded 13,762 new infections and 347 deaths in 24 hours. Both were in line with a broad trend seeing both indicators fall over recent weeks, the Xinhua news agency reported on Friday.
The daily new infections surpassed 15,000 once so far this month just barely, totalling 15,146 on February 11 a benchmark that was topped over 10 times in January.
The country's recovery rate continued to improve, totalling 17,771 on Thursday and approaching 2.3 million since the start of the pandemic.
Even the previously stubborn figure of patients in intensive-care units has generally drifted lower in recent weeks, totalling 2,045 on Thursday, two more than a day earlier but down by 29 compared to Tuesday and 98 fewer than ten days earlier.
Nino Cartabellotta, President of the GIMBE health foundation, confirmed that the overall coronavirus situation in Italy was improving, though by a slower rate than it did last summer, after the first peak.
Cartabellotta said hospitals remained at risk of being overrun by even small regional increases in the infection rate, calling on the people to be on guard against localized outbreaks, especially those tied to variants of the virus shown to be more transmissible.
Italy's vaccine rollout took a hit starting in January, amid shortfalls in vaccine deliveries from the pharmaceutical companies producing them.
On Thursday, the Italian media reported that newly-installed Prime Minister Mario Draghi plans to change the country's vaccine rollout strategy by using more public spaces as vaccination sites and employing the civil protection officials and even the armed forces to assure things move quickly.
Draghi will also urge the European Union to press drug companies to deliver vaccine doses quicker and to allow for vaccines to be produced in Italy.
According to media reports, at least seven regions including Lazio, the region that includes Rome, and Lombardy, which includes Milan are likely to switch from yellow, the least-restrictive category, to orange, the middle level. Abruzzo, the region east of Rome, appears likely to switch from orange to red, the most restrictive level. A decision is expected on Friday.
On the positive side, the mountainous northern Italian region of Val d'Aosta is the country's biggest coronavirus success story so far.
The region of around 130,000 residents recorded just 11 new infections Thursday, and it had just 8 hospitalised patients, only 2 in an intensive-care unit.
The region is vaccinating residents faster than any other Italian region, raising speculation that it could soon be declared a "white zone", which means restrictions could be lifted completely.
Another feel-good coronavirus story in the Italian media featured a couple who have just celebrated their 79th wedding anniversary on Sunday Valentine's Day.
Aged 99 and 98, respectively, Felice Amadei and Alba Taddei were declared completely recovered this week after they both contracted Covid-19 in December.
( With inputs from IANS )
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