Italy needs new restrictions to avoid third, devastating COVID-19 wave -PM to paper


FILE PHOTO: People wearing protective masks walk along Via dei Condotti street on the day Italian Health Minister Roberto Speranza lays out in parliament the government's plan for mass coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccinations and restrictions over the Christmas period, in Rome, Italy December 2, 2020. REUTERS/Yara Nardi

ROME (Reuters) - Italy's government will need to impose new restrictions during the holiday season to rein in contagion and avoid a third, devastating wave of the coronavirus, the prime minister said in an interview published on Tuesday.

"Further, new restrictions are now needed ... we must avert at all costs a third wave, because this would be devastating, also from the point of view of the loss of lives," Giuseppe Conte told La Stampa.

Conte's coalition government is considering more stringent nationwide rules for the Christmas and New Year holidays after crowds flocked to city centres over the weekend just after Rome had relaxed some restrictions put in place last month.

Italy is the European nation with the worst death toll, with more than 65,000 people dying since the outbreak in February.

Conte said a vaccination campaign would have to target some 10 million to 15 million people in order to "have an effective impact on immunity", and that such a goal would be reached by the end of the spring or before the summer at the latest.

(Reporting by Giulia Segreti; Editing by Tom Hogue)

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