Italy delays ski slopes reopening to March over coronavirus concerns

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MILAN (Reuters) – Italy has postponed the re-opening of its ski resorts to March, its health ministry said, due to the rapid spread of the COVID-19 variant which was first identified in Britain.

Ski resorts in Italy had been due to reopen from Monday, but all amateur skiing will be prohibited until March 5, the ministry said in a statement on Sunday.

The highly contagious variant accounts for 17.8% of all new infections in Italy, with the infection rate ticking up in many parts of the country, the ministry said on Friday.

British scientists have said the variant, first identified in southeast England at the end of 2021, is up to 70% more contagious than others, with a mortality risk around 30% higher.

Italy has registered 93,577 deaths linked to COVID-19 since its outbreak began in February last year, the second-highest toll in Europe after Britain and the sixth-highest in the world.

The country has reported 2.72 million cases to date.

(Reporting by Agnieszka Flak; Editing by Alexander Smith)

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