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Italy announced that at the end of January it will start an “unprecedented vaccination campaign” against covid-19

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Italian Health Minister Roberto Speranza

Italy will start an “unprecedented vaccination campaign” at the end of January, starting with the population groups most exposed to covid-19, Italian Health Minister Roberto Speranza announced on Saturday. The campaign “will take place towards the end of January, when we hope to receive the first doses destined for the most exposed categories”declared the minister at the congress of Italian pharmacists.

This “unprecedented vaccination campaign will require an extraordinary mobilization of all the forces present,” he estimated.

While the movement against vaccination has numerous followers in Italy, the minister recalled that “vaccines have represented an important leap forward in the history of mankind.”

On Friday, the technical-scientific committee, a public body in charge of advising the government on its policy to fight the pandemic, recalled that “The presence of the Italian drug agency and international regulatory agencies gives us guarantees on the safety of vaccines.”

According to a survey by the Ipsos institute for the television channel La7, released on Tuesday, 16% of Italians surveyed say they will reject the vaccine that will be available in 2021 and 42% will wait to be vaccinated, measuring its effectiveness first. Only a third of them responded that they will “without any doubt as soon as it is available.” Furthermore, 58% consider that there will not be enough doses for everyone.

A member of medical staff wearing protective clothing takes a sample from a man at the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) testing center at the San Severo fuori le mura church in Naples, Italy, on November 18, 2020. REUTERS / Ciro De Luca
A member of medical staff wearing protective clothing takes a sample from a man at the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) testing center at the San Severo fuori le mura church in Naples, Italy, on November 18, 2020. REUTERS / Ciro De Luca

Italian authorities reported today that 692 people have died from coronavirus in the last 24 hours and there have been 34,767 new infections, figures that occur at a time when the Executive is studying how to manage Christmas with measures that prevent crowds and the spread of the virus, but without damaging the economy. With these figures, the total number of deaths since February 21, when the emergency began in the country, is 49,261 and the total number of infections, 1,380,531.

Of the almost 35,000 new infections in 24 hours, 8,853 have been registered in Lombardy, the region hardest hit by the pandemic, while Veneto came in second, with 3,567 new cases, and then Campania, with 3,554.

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There are currently some 34,000 patients admitted to hospitals and 3,758 to intensive care units.

Speranza, has warned today that “the pressure on health services is still very strong” and that “the Rt index of contagion remains above 1”, for which he has called not to lower our guard.

Intensive care unit of the San Filippo Neri hospital in Rome, Italy.
Intensive care unit of the San Filippo Neri hospital in Rome, Italy.

“The first signs of a control of the curve are already being seen after weeks of vertiginous growth, but it is still not enough,” he stressed.

LOMBARDÍA AND PIAMONTE WAIT FOR THEIR DEPARTURE FROM ZONA ROJA

Italy has determined three risk levels for the regions – red, orange and yellow – and Speranza signed yesterday, Friday, an ordinance to keep the regions of Calabria, Lombardy, Piedmont, Apulia, Sicily and Valle d’Aosta in the red zone until the December 3.

But this Saturday has advanced that already within a week, on November 27, “the regions that have shown that they have improved their numbers for two weeks may change to the orange zone”, and has clarified that the decision will be made by his ministry together with regional authorities “based on careful evaluation of the data.”

The Italian media suggest this Saturday that Lombardy and Piedmont could change to the orange zone in the coming weeks, if they continue to control the transmission curve.

ITALY GETS READY FOR CHRISTMAS

Among the measures that the Executive is studying for the Christmas period is the opening of shops until 10 p.m. and of bars and restaurants also after 6 p.m. (current closing time nationwide for these establishments), but as long as establish a series of prevention measures, such as capacity limitation.

The Government wants to avoid penalizing economic activities in a period as important for commerce as Christmas, but experts warn that an excessive relaxation in the rules could lead to a new lack of control of the curve that would require new, tougher actions from January .

Within the Executive there is a division of opinions and the Minister of the South, Giuseppe Provenzano, has argued that “it is not only premature but inappropriate to discuss Christmas now”, while calling for caution.

SKI STATIONS

Another aspect on which the Government is concentrating is on the management of the ski resorts, given the proximity of the snow season.

In this sense, the Executive is studying a document that it will analyze together with the Scientific Technical Committee, predictably on Monday, and that foresees the obligation to wear masks, reduction of capacity or online purchase of tickets to avoid queues in the facilities of regions that are in areas yellow and orange.

The ski resorts will be closed in the regions that are in the red zone.

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