Italy’s total coronavirus-related deaths surpassed 100,000 on Monday as a resurgence in the pandemic prompts Mario Draghi’s government to consider additional restrictions.
Italy became the sixth country to reach 100,000 deaths from the virus, one year after it was the first Western nation to enter into a lockdown. Daily infections are accelerating and reached a three-month high last week, pushing total cases above 3 million.
Daily fatalities were 318 Monday, taking the total to 100,103, with 13,902 cases. Deaths haven’t risen as fast as infections, partly because the average age of cases has dropped to 44 years.
Draghi, who earlier called the 100,000 fatality level something “we never could have imagined” a year ago, pledged at a Rome conference Monday to turn around Italy’s slow vaccination campaign. An exit from the pandemic isn’t far away if the country can move faster on inoculations, the premier said.
The prime-minister said he’s committed to “safeguarding health, supporting those in difficulty, favoring economic recovery and accelerating reforms.” Italy’s economy contracted 8.9% last year.
Italian government has already extended existing restrictions, including a ban on travel between regions and a nighttime curfew. Draghi’s administration, advised by a panel of scientific and medical experts, is now considering a hard lockdown for several regions while accelerating vaccinations, according to an official who asked not to be cited by name as the discussions are confidential.
Milan and its surrounding region of Lombardy have already shut down all schools, bars and restaurants and ordered citizens not to leave their municipalities for anything other than work or health-related reasons.
Options on the table at national level include making more regions high-risk “red” zones, possibly for about three weeks.
Regions could automatically be moved into the red category if the threshold of 250 weekly virus cases per 100,000 inhabitants is breached. Tighter curbs could also include an earlier curfew and closing shops and malls in areas where schools are shut, the official said.