Rome, March 2 : Italy's Covid-19 infection rate has started to increase over the last week for the first time since December 2020, as the head of the country's coronavirus task force was sacked and other health experts called for greater diligence from the public.
The total number of new cases reported by the Ministry of Health for Monday was 13,114, down from more than 17,000 a day earlier, reports Xinhua news agency.
But the rate topped the 17,000-infection benchmark in each of the previous four days, a level previously not seen since January 14.
With 10,894 patients declared cured on Monday, it marked the ninth time in 10 days that new cases outnumbered the number of recoveries.
As such, the total number of active cases nationally climbed to 424,333, still well below its all-time peak of more than 800,000 from November 22, 2020, but representing the first sustained climb for that indicator in more than three months.
The number of Covid-19 patients in intensive-care units also inched higher, totalling 2,289 on Monday, an increase of 58 compared to Sunday and higher than 2,045 10 days earlier.
The mortality rate however, remained low by recent standards, with 246 new deaths reported on Monday, higher than the 192 deaths recorded for Sunday but in line with recent totals.
The one-day death figure has still not topped 500 since January 26.
The country's overall Covid-19 caseload and death toll currently stood at 2,938,371 and 97,945, respectively.
Minister of Health Roberto Speranza has issued a warning about the country's rising infection rate, stating "the contagion curve is rising significantly again and we need to fight hard".
The Ministry said that new highly-contagious versions of the virus were among the factors behind the rising number of infections.
Italy's vaccine rollout continues to be plagued by problems. The country was the first in the European Union to distribute at least one vaccine dose to at least 1 per cent of its population in mid-January.
But since then, delivery shortfalls and distribution problems have taken their toll.
Italy has now fallen to 25th place among 27 European Union states in terms of distribution rate for the first vaccine dose, covering about 4.2 per cent of the adult population.