Omicron spreading in Italy, set to be dominant, health body says

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By Reuters
Omicron spreading in Italy, set to be dominant, health body says
Omicron spreading in Italy, set to be dominant, health body says   -   Copyright  Thomson Reuters 2021   -  

<div> <p><span class="caps">MILAN</span> – The highly contagious Omicron coronavirus variant is spreading rapidly in Italy, the National Health Institute (<span class="caps">ISS</span>) said on Thursday, releasing preliminary data of a flash-survey showing it accounted for 28% of cases on Dec. 20.</p> <p>The previous survey showed Omicron at just 0.19% of cases on Dec. 6.</p> <p>Comparison of the two reports shows the variant’s doubling time is about two days, in line with the pattern already found in other European countries, <span class="caps">ISS</span> said.</p> <p>“Although the results are still preliminary, the estimate confirms the great speed of diffusion of the variant, which is set to become dominant in a short period of time,” <span class="caps">ISS</span> President Silvio Brusaferro said.</p> <p>The data were provided in the morning to the government, which is expected to decide at a cabinet meeting later on Thursday on new measures to tackle the pandemic.</p> <p>The analysis is based on about 2,000 swabs collected in 18 Italian regions and the final results will be published on Dec. 29, the <span class="caps">ISS</span> said, adding a new flash-survey would be carried out on Jan. 3.</p> <p>Italy, the first Western country to be hit by the <span class="caps">COVID</span>-19 pandemic early last year, has seen new infections and deaths rising in recent weeks, but daily caseloads remain well below some other European countries such as Britain and Germany.</p> <p>Italy reported 146 coronavirus-related deaths on Wednesday against 153 the day before, while the daily tally of new infections rose to 36,293 from 30,798.</p> <p/> </div>