Rome, Oct 7
Italy appears to be heading for a new Covid-19 wave, with a spike in new cases and hospitalisations reported in the last week, according to the Health Ministry.
On Thursday, the country registered nearly 45,000 new cases, slightly less from a day earlier but still well above the average for the last month, reports Xinhua news agency.
According to the health data body Gimbe Foundation, the broad infection rate over the last week was 52 per cent above the previous week.
Meanwhile on Tuesday, the daily infection rate of nearly 59,000 was the highest since August 2.
Health officials have cautioned that rates could rise further in the coming weeks, as cooler weather pushes more activities indoors.
The Gimbe Foundation reported that Covid-related admissions to intensive care units had surged 21 per cent over the week ending on Tuesday, while general hospitalizations related to the pandemic were 32 per cent higher.
The Ministry said that the virus' positivity rate -- the percentage of tests producing a positive result for infection with Covid-19, has been around 20 perc ent for four of the last five days. This is double the rate of around 10 per cent a month ago.
The total number of active cases in Italy topped 500,000 on Thursday, for the first time in a month.
The developments come just as the last of the health restrictions have been lifted.
In September, children returned to school with no mask or coronavirus testing requirements, and September 30 marked the end of a mask mandate on public transport.
Health Minister Roberto Speranza said the outgoing government would not implement new health restrictions during the remainder of its mandate.
Italy's newly-elected Parliament will convene for the first time on October 13, and the new government will be formed shortly afterwards.
Nevertheless, there are some positive outcomes regarding Covid-19, with the weekly mortality rate falling to 281 in the last week from 307 a week earlier.
This remains far below weekly totals of more than 1,000 in July, and weekly totals approaching 2,000 in late 2021 and early 2022.
According to the Gimbe Foundation, the death rate declined 8.5 per cent over the last week, and has now fallen for five consecutive weeks.
As of Friday, Italy's overall Covid caseload and death toll stood at 22,692,912 and 177,356, respectively.
Rome, Oct 7