Italy adds two regions to "red zones" as daily COVID-19 count surges
A medical worker is seen at a COVID-19 unit in Sant'Orsola-Malpighi hospital in Bologna, Italy, on Nov. 12, 2020. (Photo by Gianni Schicchi/Xinhua)

A medical worker is seen at a COVID-19 unit in Sant'Orsola-Malpighi hospital in Bologna, Italy, on Nov. 12, 2020. (Photo by Gianni Schicchi/Xinhua)

Italy has added two more regions to its coronavirus high-risk "red zones" as the daily COVID-19 count surged again on Friday.

The two regions -- the central region of Tuscany, including the art city of Florence, and southern Campania which includes Naples -- will join four other regions and one autonomous province to be put under strict restrictions, starting from Sunday.

The Italian government had, in early November, introduced a three-tier system and split the country into three zones -- red for the highest risk, orange for medium risk, and yellow for low risk -- according to the level of virus transmission and the situation of the public health system in each region.


"We are asking people for further sacrifices," Italian Health Minister Roberto Speranza wrote on Facebook.

"There is no alternative path if we want to lower the number of deaths, contain infections, and avoid our health services to be put under an unbearable burden ... We will make it, but everyone's contribution is essential," he added.

The "red zones" are subjected to restrictions equal to a soft lockdown. Currently, in the "red zones" are Lombardy, Piedmont and the Aosta Valley in the north, and Calabria in the south, plus Alto Adige (or South Tyrol) autonomous province in northern Italy.

In the "red zones", all non-essential shops are shut, and non-essential movements are prohibited, as well as moving from one city to another within the region or to other parts of the country. Outdoor sports activities are permitted within a short distance from home only.

Secondary schools (as in the rest of the country) and middle schools have to resort to full-time distant learning again, as in the first two-month-long national lockdown declared in spring.

These rules would add to the other restrictions implemented all over across the country, such as a curfew from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m., and the closure of gyms, discos, theaters, and museums.

Friday's data released by the Health Ministry showed that Italy recorded 40,902 new coronavirus cases in a 24-hour span, a fresh daily record since the outbreak of the epidemic in the country.

In the 24-hour span, a record of 254,908 swab tests was carried out in Italy, pushing the total to more than 18.4 million tests carried out at the national level, according to the Health Ministry.

The cumulative number of COIVD-19 infections now totaled 1,107,303 cases, including 663,926 actively infected people (of whom 629,782 currently isolated at home with mild symptoms), plus 399,238 recoveries, and 44,139 fatalities.

At a press conference earlier this week, Italy's extraordinary Commissioner for the Coronavirus Emergency Domenico Arcuri said that authorities were confident to be able "to vaccinate the first Italians at the end of January (2021)."

Once a secure vaccine is found and purchased, Italy's vaccination campaign would start with 1.7 million people among the most fragile or the most exposed to the virus, according to Arcuri.

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

According to the website of the World Health Organization, as of Nov. 12, there were 212 COVID-19 candidate vaccines being developed worldwide, and 48 of them were in clinical trials.

Source(s): Xinhua News Agency