High virologist warns Italy virus instances rising once more

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Coronavirus cases in Italy are on the rise again, in large part due to the more contagious British variant, warned a leading virologist in a newspaper interview published on Sunday.

His comments came as Italians in several cities ignored official appeals to stay home to go out and soak up the unusually mild weekend weather.

"Of course I'm worried," said Massimo Galli, a specialist at the Sacco de Milan hospital, to the Rome-based daily Il Messaggero.

"The recurrence of infections is largely due to the English variant.

"To be honest, all the data is pointing towards an increase in new cases," he added.

Although Italy's Higher Institute of Health (ISS) on Friday urged people to stay home despite the forecast of milder weather, crowds of cities flocked to the streets, parks and coastlines.

On Sunday, as various cases of the virus were on the rise, officials upgraded three other regions from medium-risk yellow to orange to higher-risk.

This has increased the number of regions classified as "orange" to nine out of a total of 20 regions, the rest being "yellow".

The change in status to "orange" means drastic restrictions on travel outside the district and the closure of bars and restaurants.

Some regions have even designated some parts of their territory as "red" zones to isolate the hardest hit areas.

As of Sunday, Italy had registered 95,718 coronavirus deaths out of 2.9 million cases.

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© 2021 AFP

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Top virologist warns of virus cases rising again in Italy (2021, February 21)
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