ROME: Italy’s top priority in the wake of the Covid-19 epidemic is to keep schools open, Prime Minister Mario Draghi has said.

The increase in distance learning practice due to the Omicron variant could happen next week, but “widespread use of distance learning” should be avoided, Draghi told a joint news conference with health and education ministers.



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Under current anti-epidemic rules, a classroom must be kept in a completely distance learning mode when a certain number of students test positive, Xinhua news agency reported. “There is no point in closing schools leaving other activities open and we have no reason to impose general closures at present,” he explained.

He emphasized that the closure of schools and universities had affected the youth since the beginning of the epidemic in the country.

Education Minister Patrizio Bianchi said about 6 percent of teaching staff and 4.5 percent of students missed school reopening because they tested positive for Covid-19.


Draghi decided to explain the latest package of restrictions at a press conference amid tensions between central and regional authorities over whether to allow schools to reopen after the Christmas and New Year holidays.

Friction Another issue was the decision to make the vaccine mandatory for people 50 years of age or older. Italy was one of the few countries in Europe to do this, and the move was controversial because vaccinations are mandatory only for certain job categories in the country.

Draghi said the rule was introduced “on the basis of the latest epidemic data,” which showed an increase in Covid-19 infections but a lower prevalence in new cases.

The current pressure on the national health system, he noted, was largely due to the lack of vaccines.


Health Minister Roberto Speranza said immunized people now make up two-thirds of all Covid-19 patients in the intensive care unit.

According to official figures, more than 86 percent of the population over the age of 12 have been fully vaccinated and 59 percent have received booster shots.

Recent regulations have made daily life tougher for anti-wax people, who are barred from entering restaurants, bars, public offices and public transport.

On Monday, Italy registered more than 101,000 new cases than the previous day.

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