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

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People wait to get a dose of the vaccine against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), on the day Italy brings in tougher rules for the unvaccinated, at a Red Cross vaccination centre by Termini main train station in Rome, Italy, January 10, 2022. REUTERS/Guglielmo Mangiapane

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MILAN, Jan 14 (Reuters) - The highly contagious Omicron coronavirus variant is now predominant in Italy, the National Health Institute (ISS) said on Friday, accounting for 81% of cases in a flash survey on Jan. 3.

The previous survey showed Omicron at just 28% of cases on Dec. 20. read more

"In Italy on January 3, the Omicron variant was predominant, with an estimated prevalence of 81%, while Delta was at 19% of the sample tested", ISS said in statement.

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The analysis is based on 2,632 swabs 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 early in 2020, has seen new infections and deaths rising in recent weeks.

Italy reported 184,615 COVID-19 related cases on Thursday, against 196,224 the day before, the health ministry said, while the number of deaths rose to 316 from 313.

The country has registered 140,188 deaths linked to COVID-19 since its outbreak in February 2020, the second-highest toll 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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