Italy Heads Back to Lockdown After New Surge in Covid Cases

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During a visit to a new vaccination centre at Rome's Fiumicino airport, Draghi did not give details of the new measures but said his cabinet had agreed to adopt "appropriate and proportionate" restrictions.

Three regions were already designated red, meaning half of Italy's regions and the bulk of its population will see schools and non-essential retailers close and people unable to leave their homes for anything other than work or emergency purposes.

He added: "The memory of what happened last spring is vivid, and we will do everything to prevent it from happening again".

Italy has registered 101,881 deaths linked to Covid-19 since its outbreak emerged in February previous year.

From Monday, every region with more than 250 cases per 100,000 inhabitants will pass automatically into red.

Italy will be placed under a nationwide lockdown over the Easter weekend for the second year running, a draft decree law seen by Reuters said on Friday, underlining the struggle to stem a fresh surge in coronavirus cases.

Previously, the classification of red zones was based on a range of criteria, involving some political input.

Milan- Italy reported 317 coronavirus-related deaths on Saturday against 380 the day before, the health ministry said.

But the decree also imposes tougher curbs for the country's low-risk "yellow" regions as of Monday, severely limiting movement between towns and closing restaurants and bars.

"In the last week there have been more than 150,000 infections, compared to 131,000 the previous week, an increase of nearly 5,000 people in hospital and 600 in intensive care". In recent months, the government has introduced restrictions at a regional level, depending on case numbers.

Italy has temporarily suspended the use of certain batches of AstraZeneca's coronavirus vaccine following reports of serious health effects in people who received the shot.

The prime minister also referred to the country's vaccination campaign.

There were 270 new admissions to intensive care units, up from 226 on Friday.

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