The Italian Health Minister said, Tuesday, that the type of coronavirus discovered in Britain is spreading among infected schoolchildren in Italy and is helping to fuel a “strong” rise in the country’s COVID-19 infection curve.
Roberto Speranza told reporters that the variable associated with higher transmission rates showed prevalence “among the younger age groups” of the population.
In recent weeks, new cases of infection among young people in Italy have now exceeded the infection rate among the older population, which is the opposite of how COVID-19 infects the population in the first months of the epidemic.
Italy, the country of 60 million people where COVID-19 first appeared in the West in February 2020, has recorded nearly 3 million confirmed cases.
Speranza announced stricter directives, contained in the first decree to combat the epidemic issued by the new Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, with the aim of trying to “control the curve of infection”, especially among school-age children.
The minister said there were “fairly strong signs of an increase in the contagion curve and dire variants”, particularly those discovered in Britain.
The head of the State Higher Institute of Health, Silvio Brusavero, said that as of the case analyzes on February 18, 54% of the confirmed COVID-19 cases in Italy had this variant. But, Prosavero said, “if it were measured today, the proportion would definitely be higher.”
Another variant, found in Brazil, is now involved in 4.3% of recent COVID-19 cases in Italy, particularly in central Italy, including the Rome region.
In recent days, the authorities have taken to lockdown many towns and cities in areas with rapidly increasing infection rates. The mayor of Bologna, which has a population of 400,000, announced that from Thursday until March 21, the city will be subject to strict “red zone” lockdown rules, which means that all restaurants and cafes for eating, as well as non-essential stores, will be closed.
Another place of interest is Como, the lakeside city near Switzerland. Many Como citizens travel across the border.
Prosavero said the variant found in South Africa is implicated in 0.4% of COVID-19 infections in Italy and is mainly confined to the Italian Alps region near the border with Austria.
The Draghi decree, which goes into effect on Saturday and continues through April 6, just after Easter, tightened procedures governing schools. It provides for the closure of all schools, including nursery and primary students, in the “red zone” areas. Exceptions will be made for students with special needs.
But the decree eases restrictions in the world of culture. Starting on March 27th, cinemas and theaters can reopen in “yellow zone” areas with low infection and virus transmission rates, but these venues should limit capacity to 25%. Museums in the Yellow Zones, which are already permitted to the public on weekdays, can also open on weekends beginning March 27.
Gyms and swimming pools remain closed. A curfew also remains from 10 pm to 5 am nationwide, and travel bans between Italian regions.
The death toll known in Italy, which exceeded 98,000 people, is the second highest in Europe after Britain.