ROME

Italy’s death toll from coronavirus surpassed the 100,000 mark on Monday, as the government led by Prime Minister Mario Draghi struggles to contain a third wave of contagion linked to the new variants.

According to fresh data by the Italian Health Ministry, 318 people died from COVID-19 in the past 24 hours, bringing the national tally since the start of the pandemic to 100,103.

In the past day, 13,902 new cases were registered, down from 20,765 on Sunday. But usually Mondays’ data reflect a lower number of tests normally carried out at the weekend.

The total number of confirmed cases since the start of the outbreak last February is now at over 3 million.

Italy’s health officials have repeatedly warned citizens that the country is facing a new surge of infections as a more dangerous variant – the so-called British one – is spreading around.

Weekly infection numbers rose by a third to more than 123,000 cases between Feb. 24 and March 2, the highest since early December, official data showed.

As intensive care units return under pressure across the country, the newly-installed Draghi government is considering further restrictions, including a new nationwide lockdown.

Lockdowns have already been enforced at a local level in several provinces and cities – leading to new closure of bars, restaurants, shops, and most schools.

Health minister Roberto Speranza said last week that more “red zones” are likely to be declared across the country, depending on the short-term developments of the contagion curve.

According to Italy’s higher Health Institute (ISS), at least 54% of all cases in Italy are now caused by the so-called English variant.

Meanwhile, Italy’s vaccination plan has made slow progress so far, even though the government has recently announced it will speed up vaccinations significantly in the next few months, to reach herd immunity by the end of the summer.

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