ROME (Reuters) – Italy reported 477 coronavirus-related deaths on Friday, against 522 the day before, the health ministry said, while the daily tally of new infections declined to 16,146 from 17,246.
Some 273,506 tests were carried out in the past day, against a previous 160,585 as so-called “rapid tests” which are less accurate but offer much faster results, were added to the total for the first time.
Italy has registered 81,325 COVID-19 deaths since the virus came to light last February, the second-highest toll in Europe and the sixth-highest in the world. The country has also reported 2.352 million cases to date, the health ministry said.
Earlier on Friday the government issued a new decree extending curbs to keep lid on infections after the health ministry warned that the epidemic was getting worse.
Restrictions will be tightened to the maximum “red-zone” level in three of Italy’s 20 regions, including northern Lombardy around Milan, the country’s wealthiest and most populous area.
Health Minister Roberto Speranza said on Friday that more than 1 million people had now been vaccinated in Italy since the inoculation campaign began on Dec. 27.
Patients in hospital with COVID-19 – not including those in intensive care – stood at 22,841 on Friday, down 269 from a day earlier.
There were 156 new admissions to intensive care units, against 164 the day before. The total number of intensive care patients fell by 35 to 2,522.
When Italy’s second wave of the epidemic was accelerating quickly in the first half of November, hospital admissions were rising by about 1,000 per day, while intensive care occupancy was increasing by around 100 per day.
(Reporting by Gavin Jones, editing by Crispian Balmer)