COVID-19 Cases, Deaths Drop In Italy

Italy on Sunday reported a fall in both daily infections and new coronavirus-related deaths, as the country continues to battle a resurgence in the pandemic contagion.

The Health Ministry registered 12,545 new daily infections, down from 16,310 a day earlier, while new daily deaths stood at 377, down from 475 on Saturday. The lower numbers, however, reflected a smaller amount of swab and rapid tests conducted during the weekend.

As the vaccination campaign rollout continued, some 1.1 million people in Italy have received the first doses of vaccine against COVID-19 — the highest number in the EU.

The campaign, which started at the end of December, has prioritized medical workers and nursing home staff and residents. Now it will start targeting citizens over 80, and health authorities hope it will be able to cover the whole Italian population by fall.

The second phase of the vaccinations, however, could face unexpected delays after Pfizer-BioNTech announced a substantial cut in its deliveries of the new doses across Europe.

In Italy, the number of vaccines to be delivered next week will be reduced by 165,000 doses, according to a statement by Special Commissioner for the Emergency Domenico Arcuri.

Arcuri criticized Pfizer’s decision as “unilateral,” stressing that it was not shared with the commissioner’s office and that it will aggravate “asymmetries” among the Italian regions.

Amid the health emergency, the Italian government also has to solve a sudden political crisis, with premier Giuseppe Conte due to face two key confidence votes in parliament on Monday and Tuesday, which will determine his political survival.

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