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UK virus variant runs riot in Italy

March 04, 2021 00:00:00

ROME, Mar 03 (AFP): Italy's new government ordered more school closures Tuesday after data showed the majority of coronavirus cases to be of the more contagious British variant.

All schools in the highest risk regions will switch to distance learning under new rules to come into effect from Saturday, whereas previously only secondary schools in so-called red zones were shuttered.

Regional authorities will also have new discretion to suspend face-to-face teaching in areas within lower risk orange and yellow regions where the coronavirus situation is particularly bad, according to a decree lasting until April 6.

New data from the national ISS health institute revealed that 54 percent of coronavirus cases in Italy were now of the so-called British variant, which is considered more contagious.

"The British variant has a particular ability to penetrate the younger generation," Health Minister Roberto Speranza told a press conference.

"This has led us to make a choice, which is that school of all levels in red zones will be distance learning." Under the latest classification that came into force Monday, only two of Italy's 20 regions were red: Basilicata and Molise in the south. Lombardy, which comprises the city of Milan, Marche and Piedmont are orange.

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