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Italy enters into another lockdown amid third Covid-19 wave
15 March 2021, 15:10 | Updated: 15 March 2021, 15:36
Large swathes of Italy have today been plunged into another lockdown as the country battles with a third wave of Covid-19.
Schools, restaurants, shops and museums have been closed until Easter, meaning people can only leave their homes for essential reasons such as grocery shopping or work.
The majority of Italian regions have been designed as high risk by Health Minister Roberto Speranza, including those which include Rome and Milan.
Eight regions, mostly in the north and centre of the country, and the autonomous region of Trento are now red zones.
All the other regions are orange zone, meaning schools are allowed to remain open.
Sardinia is the only low-risk “white” area, meaning they escape restrictions.
The entire country will be placed under red zone restrictions over the Easter weekend of 3-5 April.
On Thursday, the GIMBE health tank confirmed the third wave of infections has begun, after the number of cases increased for the third consecutive week.
150,000 new Covid-19 cases were reported in the past seven days, up from the 131,000 recorded the week previous.
Prime Minister Mario Draghi also confirmed the start of the new wave.
During a visit to a new vaccination hub at Rome’s Fiumicino airport he told reporters: "“More than a year after the start of the health emergency, we are unfortunately facing a new wave of infections.
"The memory of what happened last spring is vivid, and we will do everything to prevent it from happening again.”
Italy's third wave comes as many European countries report rising infections, amid a sluggish start to the vaccine programme.
France today announced it has suspended use of the Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine following advice from the country's national medicine's regulator to investigate reports of blood clots.
Denmark suspended use of the vaccine last week, followed by Norway, Iceland and EU countries including Bulgaria, Ireland and the Netherlands on Sunday evening.
The Netherlands announced last night that it was suspending use of the jab until March 29.
Germany's Federal Ministry of Health announced today that the use of the vaccine was being suspended.
The country's Health Ministry said the move was a "precaution" on the advice of Germany's national vaccine regulator, the Paul Ehrlich Institute, to allow for the reports to be investigated.