Italy now obligates every adult over 50-years-old to be vaccinated against COVID-19, The Guardian reported.
The measure was passed unanimously by the Council of Ministers despite divisions between political parties on Wednesday and took immediate effect, The Guardian reported.
The Omicron coronavirus variant put increased pressure on hospitals in Italy, with 189,109 new infections and 231 deaths on Wednesday, The Guardian reported. The country’s total death toll of 138,276 is the highest of any European country, except the U.K.
“We are making these choices in order to restrict the unvaccinated as much as possible, as this is what is causing the burden on our hospital system,” Roberto Speranza, the nation’s health minister, told reporters after the cabinet meeting, The Guardian reported. He reportedly emphasized that the unvaccinated accounted for two-thirds of COVID-19 patients in intensive care units.
The ministers also tightened Italy’s workplace vaccination rules, with those 50 and older with jobs in either the public or private sector required to show a health pass proving immunization or previous COVID-19 recovery after Feb. 15, The Guardian reported.
Italian business leaders urged the cabinet to make vaccination mandatory for all workers, fearing that a new wave would slow the economy without increased protection against the virus, The Guardian reported.
“We want to slow the growth of the infection curve and push Italians who are not yet vaccinated to get vaccinated,” Prime Minister Mario Draghi said at the start of the cabinet meeting, The Guardian reported. “We are targeting the age groups which are most at risk of hospitalisation in order to reduce pressure on hospitals and save lives. At the same time, we want to keep schools and businesses open.”
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