ROME, Oct. 27 (Xinhua) -- Italy's COVID-19 epidemiological curve is on a marked upward trend and must be brought back down before the situation sparks tougher measures, National Institute of Health (ISS) President Silvio Brusaferro warned during a press conference on Tuesday.
"The upward trend is pretty unequivocal," Brusaferro said, explaining that the curve started rising again "from mid-August onwards," when young people returned from their summer holidays.
Brusaferro said that thanks to a March-May nationwide lockdown the epidemiological curve "started dropping in April and continued to do so until mid-August."
At that time, the average age of those contracting the coronavirus had dropped to around 30 years. "Then young people came home from their holidays and started infecting those around them, driving the average age up to 40 years," Brusaferro said.
"However, people over 70 are starting to get infected again -- and they are the people most at risk of complications and a fatal outcome," the ISS president warned.
Brusaferro added that "reaching 20,000 cases a day means tracing 4-5 contacts per case" in order to notify and quarantine people at risk.
"These are very significant numbers that are difficult to sustain, and this is an element of concern," Brusaferro said.
He explained that when contact tracing becomes impossible, the only other way to contain the pandemic would be "tougher measures" to guarantee social distancing, including lockdowns.
On Tuesday, the Ministry of Health reported 21,994 new COVID-19 cases.
As the world is struggling to contain the pandemic, countries including France, China, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States are racing to find a vaccine.
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