Italy reports almost 13,000 new COVID-19 cases, more regions moved to red zone
Italy on Monday reported 12,916 new COVID-19 infections as over half of its 20 regions turned into red zones, according to the latest data from the Ministry of Health.
The country's death toll rose by 417 to 108,350, while the recoveries increased by 19,725 to over 2.87 million, according to the ministry.
Health Minister Roberto Speranza signed a March 26 order designating which regions fall into which color-coded zone, with the new rules going into effect on Monday and lasting through April 6.
In a bid to contain the new wave of the pandemic, the Italian government late last year divided the country into three color-coded areas -- yellow or low risk, orange or medium risk, and red or high risk -- with varying restrictions according to the level of transmission of the virus.
The new orders moved the regions of Calabria, Tuscany and Valle d'Aosta into the red zone, where they joined Campania, Emilia Romagna, Friuli Venezia Giulia, Lazio, Lombardy, Marche, Piedmont, Puglia, Veneto and the Autonomous Province of Trento.
All these regions need to be in the red zone because they "present a weekly incidence of contagion of over 250 cases per 100,000 inhabitants," said the order.
Red zones have near-total lockdown rules, with all shops shut down except for those selling essential goods, such as groceries and pharmacies, and a ban on all social activities in public.
The rest of Italy's 20 regions remain in the orange zone, where the restrictive rules include a 10 pm to 5 am curfew and a ban on travel outside one's municipality; bars and restaurants can operate until 6 pm, but they can only serve takeaways.
The central Lazio region where Rome is located will become orange beginning on Tuesday. However, the entire country will be in the red zone over the Easter weekend, from April 3 to 5.
Speranza made the new designations based on the Ministry of Health's weekly monitoring report referred to March 15 to 21, which said that "the incidence (of the virus) at the national level is still very high."
Also on Monday, Speranza announced on Twitter that "I have signed a protocol with regions and pharmacists in order to start COVID vaccinations in the pharmacies of our country... In this way, we are taking another step forward to make it (the vaccination campaign) more widespread."