MILAN (Reuters) – The Delta coronavirus variant and its sibling Kappa have surged in Italy in the past month, accounting for nearly 17% of total COVID-19 cases, the national health institute ISS said on Friday.
The Delta variant was becoming dominant, it said.
Both Delta, also known by the designation B.1.617.2 , and Kappa, or B.1.617.1, are sublineages of a variant that was originally detected in India. Delta is considered a “variant of concern” by the WHO.
“Cases of the Kappa and Delta variants…rose from 4.2% in May to 16.8% in June”, based on data extracted on June 21, the institute said.
“Our epidemiological monitoring shows a rapidly evolving picture that confirms that also in our country, as in the rest of Europe, the Delta variant of the virus is becoming dominant,” Anna Teresa Palamara, director of ISS Infectious Diseases Department, said in a statement.
The Alpha coronavirus variant, originally detected in the UK in 2020, remains the most widespread in Italy, representing 74.9% of cases, the institute said.
Italy has registered 127,380 deaths linked to COVID-19 since the virus emerged in February last year, the second-highest toll in Europe after Britain and the eighth-highest in the world. The country has reported 4.26 million cases to date.
Coronavirus cases have now been steadily falling for weeks. The daily tally of new infections decreased to 927 from 951 on Thursday, the health ministry said, while coronavirus-related deaths were 28 against 30 the day before.