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'Holidays are a risk': Travel warning as coronavirus cases rise in Italy

People enjoy the beach in Fregene, a fashionable sea resort some 30km (19 miles) north of Rome, Sunday, July 26, 2020.
People enjoy the beach in Fregene, a fashionable sea resort some 30km (19 miles) north of Rome, Sunday, July 26, 2020.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Karl Ritter
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The number of daily new coronavirus infections in Italy jumped 38% higher Friday, with 552 confirmed cases registered compared to the previous day.

Italy hadn't seen such a high daily new caseload since late May. Barely two weeks ago, Italy had been registering roughly 200 new cases a day.

The northeastern region of Veneto, which performed nearly 16,500 swab tests in a day, registered roughly a third of those new cases —183.

Veneto Gov. Luca Zaia said the new infections were found in residents who recently returned home from Spain, Peru, Malta, Croatia and Greece.

"Vacations are a risk," he said in his daily briefing. "Everyone must decide where they want to go on vacation, but it's also true, that by us, for a couple of weeks now, we're seeing a concentration of patients who were infected on vacation."

Northern Italy is where the country's outbreak began in February, and which registered the highest number of cases and deaths throughout the pandemic.

But recently, many other clusters of infection have been occurring in central and southern Italy. Most of those cases have been linked to foreigners returning for work at farms or restaurants or hotels or to migrants rescued at sea.

Three more deaths were registered on Friday, raising Italy's confirmed pandemic toll to 35,190. Experts say numbers from all countries are undercounted, due to limited testing and missed cases.

Italian authorities have also been trying to crack down on nightlife in tourist spots like the islands of Capri and Ponza or in bar districts in cities including Rome, Milan, and Naples. Italy requires masks to be worn outdoors if social distancing can't be maintained. Many outdoor cafes and bars have attracted crowds of young people, most not wearing masks.

The Italian Health Ministry says the average age of infected persons in recent weeks has dropped to 40, compared to about 61 during the early days of the pandemic.

Other European countries have reported increases in cases in recent days.

France reported on Thursday that it had registered 1,604 new daily cases and that the number of infections recorded in the previous week was 33 per cent higher than the week prior.

Health officials noted that "the incidence has risen in all age groups, but it's particularly marked in 20-30-year-olds".

They reiterated "even on holidays, even in summer, the virus is still here" and urged people to remain vigilant and respect social distancing measures.

In Belgium, the average daily increase in the week ending on August 3 was 46 per cent higher than the one recorded on the week ending July 7 — 550 cases vs 377. However, the number of hospital admissions and deaths were stable.

In England, where 871 new cases were recorded on Thursday, local restrictions in some 20 councils in Greater Manchester, Lancashire, West Yorkshire, and Leicester were extended for another week on Friday.

"Yesterday I chaired a meeting of the Local Action Gold Committee, and unfortunately, the data does not yet show a decrease in the transmission of this terrible virus," Health Secretay Matt Hancock said in a statement.

In Germany, an additional 1,147 cases were recorded on over the previous 24 hours, compared to 870 a week ago.

"In the past few weeks, the number of districts reporting zero COVID-19 cases over a period of 7 days has decreased markedly. In parallel, the COVID-19 incidence has risen in many federal states. This trend is concerning," the Robert Koch Institute said in its daily report.