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COVID-19 Omicron variant now dominant in Italy, says health agency

COVID-19 Omicron variant now dominant in Italy, says health agency

People wait for a dose of the vaccine against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), on the day Italy introduces stricter rules for unvaccinated, at a Red Cross vaccination center near Termini central station in Rome, Italy, January 10 . 2022. REUTERS/Guglielmo Mangiapane

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MILAN, Jan. 14 (Reuters) – The highly contagious strain of the Omicron coronavirus now dominates Italy, the National Health Institute (ISS) said Friday, accounting for 81% of cases in a flash study on Jan. 3.

The previous survey showed Omicron on December 20 in only 28% of cases. read more

“In Italy, on Jan. 3, the Omicron variant was predominant, with an estimated prevalence of 81%, while Delta was 19% of the sample tested,” ISS said in a statement.

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The analysis is based on 2,632 smears tested in 120 laboratories and collected in all 21 Italian regions and autonomous provinces, the Institute said.

Italy, the first western country to be hit by the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020, has seen new infections and deaths rise in recent weeks.

Italy reported 184,615 COVID-19-related cases on Thursday, up from 196,224 the day before, the health ministry said, as the death toll rose from 313 to 316.

The country has recorded 140,188 deaths from COVID-19 since the outbreak in February 2020, the second highest number in Europe after Britain and the ninth highest in the world. The country has reported 8.15 million cases to date.

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Reporting by Emilio Parodi, editing by Tomasz Janowski

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