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Live Covid News: Pfizer Expects Clinical Data for Children Under 5 in April; Italy requires vaccines for over-50s

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Italy has made it mandatory for people 50 or older to get vaccinated against Covid-19, as the country works to ease pressure on hospitals and reduce deaths amid a dramatic rise in infections.

The measure is one of the toughest vaccine mandates in Europe and is effective immediately. The move was unanimously supported by ministers, despite divisions between the parties making up Prime Minister Mario Draghi’s broad coalition ahead of Wednesday’s cabinet meeting.

People are lining up for a rapid Covid-19 test site amid a surge in infections caused by the Omicron variant. Photo: Amer Ghazzal/REX/Shutterstock

Italy has also tightened the rules on vaccines in the workplace and from February 15, people over 50 who have a job, in the public or private sector, will be required to present a health card proving they have been vaccinated or recovered from Covid-19.

Hospitals are under increasing pressure due to the Omicron variant. Italy registered 189,109 new infections and 231 deaths on Wednesday, bringing the death toll to 138,276, the highest in Europe after the UK.

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