Italy’s COVID anniversary commemoration nixed by new variant

ROME (AP) — The British variant of the coronavirus is taking hold in Italy right as the country is marking the first anniversary of the start of its outbreak. One of the main events this weekend commemorating the anniversary was canceled Thursday after variant clusters forced localized lockdowns in hardest-hit Lombardy and around the country. Brescia’s public hospital, which was overwhelmed during the initial outbreak last year, had planned a daylong conference Saturday on lessons learned from the pandemic, featuring the intensive care doctor who diagnosed Italy’s first locally transmitted case. But the hospital announced Thursday that it was postponing the event out of a sense of responsibility “considering the rapid evolution of the epidemiological situation.”