ROME

Italy Saturday topped 500,000 people vaccinated against COVID-19, becoming the country with the highest number of first doses administered in the EU.

According to the latest data, out of over 900,000 doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine delivered across Italy since Dec. 27, more than 55% have already been injected.

Despite an acceleration in the vaccination campaign over the past week, the situation varies substantially from region to region, with some highly populated regions – like Lombardy – still lagging behind.

On Saturday, Italy also reported 483 new coronavirus-related deaths, down from 620 a day before, after the government strengthened restrictions in some regions to stop the second wave of contagion.

The Italian Health Ministry also reported 19,978 new daily infections, up from 17,533 a day before.

On Friday, the government decided to tighten anti-virus measures in the hard-hit Lombardy region and four other areas, as it tries to reverse a recent acceleration in the infection rate.

Five regions – including Lombardy, Veneto and Emilia Romagna in the north, and Sicily and Calabria in the south – were listed as medium-risk “orange” regions, starting from Jan. 10.

Amid the health emergency, the government of Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte continues to face political instability, as the threat of his coalition partner Matteo Renzi to bring down the government remains concrete.

A meeting among the main coalition forces on Friday did not produce any agreement, showing that the tensions within the ruling majority are still high.

Conte aims for his Cabinet to approve next week a new version of Italy’s economic recovery plan, which includes some of the requests presented by Renzi’s Italia Viva party. But it is still unclear if that would be enough to ensure the government’s survival.

Copyright 2021 Anadolu Agency. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.