ROME (Reuters) – The small number of Italians who refuse to be vaccinated against COVID-19 are largely responsible for the continued health crisis, Prime Minister Mario Draghi said on Monday.
The government last week made vaccinations mandatory for everyone aged over 50, one of very few European countries to take such a step, in an attempt to ease pressure on its hospitals as new cases surge.
“We must never lose sight of the fact that most of the problems we have today are because there are non-vaccinated people,” Draghi told a news conference. “For the umpteenth time, I invite all those Italians who are not yet vaccinated to do so, and to get the third shot.”
Health Minister Roberto Speranza said 89.4% of all those aged 12 and over had received at least one vaccine dose, yet the unvaccinated accounted for two-thirds of all the COVID patients in intensive care units.
Latest data released on Monday showed there were 1,606 people in intensive care with COVID, up 11 on the previous day, while the country reported 101,762 new cases and 227 additional deaths over the past 24 hours.
Piling further pressure on people to get inoculated, new restrictions came into force on Monday banning those not yet vaccinated from entering bars and restaurants or from using public transport.
Only those who have recently recovered from COVID-19 will be exempted from the new rule.
(Reporting by Crispian Balmer and Angelo Amante; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)