Covid deaths decline in Italy, but cases increase due to football parties
ROME, July 18 (Reuters) – Italy reported only three deaths from the coronavirus on Sunday compared to 13 the day before, the lowest toll since last August, however, the daily number of new infections rose to 3,127 from 3,121.
Sundays usually see a drop in the number of cases due to limited testing only on weekends, so although the increase in infections was small, it still represented a sixth consecutive daily increase, confirming fears of a new wave of infections.
Health experts believe the increase was driven by celebrations during the recent European soccer tournaments, which were won by Italy and which led to street parties and a complete breakdown in social distancing in many cities and towns.
The head of Italy’s health institute, Franco Locatelli, said the average age of those infected was 28. “Groups and crowds helped spread the virus,” he told La Repubblica newspaper on Sunday.
The health ministry said the number of hospitalized patients with COVID-19, excluding those in intensive care, stood at 1,136 on Sunday, up from 1,111 the day before.
And three new admissions to intensive care units were recorded, compared to nine cases on Saturday, while the total number of intensive care patients decreased to 156 from 162 previously.
Next week, the government is expected to announce limited restrictions on people who have not been fully vaccinated, including preventing them from serving in indoor restaurants or from entering discos, gyms and sports stadiums.
As of Sunday afternoon, 49.9% of all Italians over the age of 12 have been vaccinated.
Italy has recorded 127,867 deaths linked to COVID-19 since it emerged in February last year, the second highest toll in Europe after Britain and the eighth highest in the world. The country has reported 4.29 million cases so far.
The Ministry of Health said about 165,269 tests were conducted for COVID-19 in the past day, compared to 244,797 previously.
Editing by Crispian Palmer and Daniel Wallis
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