About one month after easing most restrictions on people’s movements, Italy maintained a downward trend in active coronavirus infections, the latest official data showed.

Yet, one of the most relevant anti-Covid-19 rules still in place — a ban on travelling between the country’s regions, except for essential work, health, or emergency reasons — was expected to be extended beyond the current mid-February deadline, according to authorities, the Xinhua news agency reported.

Overall, Italy counted more than 2.6 million coronavirus cases as of Thursday, with a daily increase of 15,146 against the previous day, the Health Ministry stated.

Active infections dropped by 5,092 to 405,019 cases in total, confirming a decreasing trend that has continued almost uninterrupted since January 11.

The vast majority (383,951) of those actively infected are currently isolated at home, asymptomatic or with mild symptoms, while 2,126 patients are in intensive care, data showed.

Another 391 new deaths were also registered on Thursday, bringing the country’s death toll to 92,729. Recoveries grew daily by 19,838 cases, pushing to 2,185,655 the number of people who have recovered from the disease since the pandemic broke out here in late February, 2020.

So far, the trend has remained relatively positive after the tight national restrictions imposed in the Christmas and New Year holiday season were lifted on January 11. That day, the country returned to a three-tiered system introduced in early November, which provides different restriction levels according to the local pandemic situation.

Regions are declared yellow (low risk of contagion), orange (medium risk), or red (high risk), according to a periodical assessment by regional and central health authorities.

Once the system was reintroduced in early January, fifteen out of twenty regions were assessed as yellow; five turned orange and maintained tight restrictions in place.

As of Thursday, two southern regions (Sicily and Apulia), plus the central Umbria region, and northern Alto Adige province were still orange, and the rest of the country yellow.

Meanwhile, the three coronavirus vaccines authorized in Italy — Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca — have been administered to almost 2.8 million people, according to the data by Coronavirus Emergency Commissioner Domenico Arcuri’s office.

It made 77.5 per cent of some 3.65 million doses of vaccine currently available in Italy, whose campaign — as it has occurred in several other European Union (EU) countries — has been hampered since late January by delivery delays from producing companies.

Meanwhile, 242 candidate vaccines are still being developed worldwide — 63 of them in clinical trials — in countries including Germany, China, Russia, Britain and the United States, according to information released by the World Health Organization on February 9.

Also on Thursday, the Region’s Conference — a body gathering Italy’s 20 regional governments — signalled in favour of extending the current ban on inter-regional movements, which was set to expire on February 15. This decision ultimately depends on Italy’s central cabinet, but in coordination with regions.

“The Conference is prone to ask an extension of the (government’s) decree prohibiting movements between regions, even between yellow ones, and I will soon inform Regional Affairs Minister Francesco Boccia and Prime Minister-designate Mario Draghi of this,” the group’s chairman Stefano Bonaccini stated.

The regions would ask the ban to be applied until March 5 at least, meanwhile coordinating with the central government for a gradual reopening of theaters, cinemas, and gyms, ANSA news agency quoted Bonaccini as saying.

–IANS

int/rs