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COVID-19: Italy touches new peak in daily deaths

Government readies new Christmas measures

Giada Zampano   | 15.12.2020
COVID-19: Italy touches new peak in daily deaths

ROME

Italy on Tuesday reported 846 new coronavirus-related deaths, up from 491 a day before, as the country remains the one with the highest death toll in Europe.

Italy also recorded 14,844 new infections, up from 12,030 on Monday, with a higher number of swab tests performed.

The new figures confirm the trend observed over the past few weeks, which shows that the contagion curve is flattening, but at a very slow pace.

The number of daily deaths also continues to be worryingly high, showing that the virus remains deadly.

The government is mulling stricter anti-coronavirus measures for the upcoming holiday period, following the example of Germany and other European partners, in a bid to avoid a third pandemic wave early next year.

The Cabinet led by Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, however, is deeply divided over new restrictions, which could include an extension of overnight curfews, a ban on all non-essential movements, and the closure of all shops not deemed essential.

TV images showed crowds of shoppers invading Italy's main city centers over the weekend, following a partial easing of restrictions in some Italian regions. Police were even forced to seal off popular sites, including Rome's Trevi Fountain, after crowds flooded the streets.

The government is worried that a relaxation in the rules during the holidays could favor huge get-togethers and family reunions, fueling a third wave of contagion across the country.

Under pressure from critics, the government has been shaken by growing instability due to the far-flung positions of its coalition partners.

Last week, former premier and leftist political leader Matteo Renzi openly attacked Conte in parliament, accusing him of trying to monopolize power with the creation of a special task force to handle the country's massive recovery plan.

A possible vote on key measures in parliament could pave the way for an end-of-the-year political crisis, which could even lead to a new transition government headed by Conte or another leader of the center-left majority. The option of early polls in the first quarter of next year, however, remains unlikely.

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