ROME, Nov. 12 (Xinhua) -- Italy on Thursday reported a total of 37,978 new coronavirus cases and 636 deaths, while its national coronavirus commissioner said he is confident a public vaccination campaign will likely begin in January next year.
The new cases compared to 32,961 new infections and 623 deaths on Wednesday, according to the latest data from the Ministry of Health.
Another 15,645 patients recovered Thursday, pushing total recoveries to 387,758 since the start of the pandemic.
Thursday's fatalities pushed the death toll to 43,589 since the pandemic first surfaced in Italy in late February.
A total of 635,054 people are currently positive to the virus in Italy, according to the Ministry of Health.
Of these, 602,011 patients are quarantined at home with light or no symptoms, 29,873 are hospitalized, and 3,170 are in the intensive care unit (ICU).
Over the past 30 days, there have been 5,388 COVID-19 deaths, 96,497 recoveries, and over 600,000 new cases, according to the latest integrated surveillance report published on Wednesday by the COVID-19 Taskforce of the National Institute of Health.
More than 19,000 infections have occurred among health care workers over the past 30 days. The average age of those infected was 45 years, with 49.7 percent of the male and 50.3 percent of them female, the ISS report said.
Extraordinary Commissioner for the Coronavirus Emergency Domenico Arcuri said Thursday at a press conference that "we are confident we will be able to vaccinate the first Italians at the end of January" 2021.
"We will start with a campaign to vaccinate 1.7 million of our fellow citizens, progressively reaching a wider sector of the population after that," Arcuri said.
Also on Thursday, Health Minister Roberto Speranza signed a new ordinance designating five more of Italy's 20 regions as high-risk areas. The new designations mean residents and businesses face stricter measures to control the spread of the virus.
The regions of Abruzzo, Basilicata, Liguria, Tuscany, and Umbria are now included in the orange area (joining the regions of Sicily and Puglia) and the Autonomous Province of Bolzano is now included in the red area (which already included Calabria, Lombardy, Piedmont, and the Aosta Valley), the Ministry of Health said.
Orange means "sustained and widespread transmission posing the national health system at risk", and red means "uncontrolled transmission" stretching the national health system beyond capacity, according to a September document issued by the Ministry of Health.
Anti-COVID-19 restrictions in orange areas include a 10 p.m.-5 a.m. curfew, a ban on traveling in or out of regions and municipalities, and the total shutdown of bars and restaurants.
People living in red areas can't leave the house except for provable work or health-related reasons and are banned from traveling in or out of their regions and municipalities. Bars, restaurants, and all retailers except groceries, pharmacies, and newsstands must shut down.
As the world is struggling to contain the pandemic, countries including Italy, Germany, China, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States are racing to find a vaccine.
According to the website of the World Health Organization, as of Nov. 3, there were 202 COVID-19 candidate vaccines being developed worldwide, and 47 of them were in clinical trials.