Italy plans 80% vaccinated by end of September

Closed for Easter Italy Set to Introduce Another National Lockdown				2		
			TIZIANA FABI  AFP via Getty Images Kurt Zindulka13 Mar 2021

"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".

Prime Minister Mario Draghi said on Friday he would hike this year's budget deficit further in order to support the economy hit by a worsening coronavirus crisis and promised to intensify Italy's vaccination drive.

The country sets restrictions based on a color-code system of white, yellow, orange, and red, with the latter symbolizing the highest number of infections.

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

Italy is facing another lockdown, as the government attempts to contain a recent surge of coronavirus cases, marred by the presence of new variants.

The GIMBE health tank on Thursday said the increase in the number of new cases for three consecutive weeks "confirms the start of the third wave".

He said that in more than half of Italy's 20 regions, "hospitals and above all intensive care units are already overloaded", with ordinary health services suspended.

Ahead of Easter, and starting on Monday, the regions now in the yellow zone will be moved up into the orange zone, regardless of their local pandemic condition.

Bars, restaurants, hairdressers, beauty salons and any other leisure facility will remain closed.

"A few days ago I thanked the Italian people for their infinite patience", Draghi said.

But he acknowledged there would be "consequences for the education of children, for the economy and also for the psychological state of us all".

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

On Friday, Italy's health agency approved the use of Johnson & Johnson's single-dose vaccine, with hopes that the shots be delivered within the next month, per Reuters.

"Italy is administering about 170,000 doses a day - our aim is to triple that", Draghi said in one of his rare public appearances since becoming premier.

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