Italian Prez thanks citizens for sense of responsibility in New Year speech


Rome, Jan 1 : In what was due to be his last New Year speech as the country's President, Sergio Mattarella has thanked Italians for their "maturity and sense of responsibility" during the two years of the coronavirus pandemic. Mattarella, 80, was elected Italy's 12th President on January 31, 2015, and his seven-year mandate will end in January 2022. He repeatedly made clear he would not be available for re-election. "In these days, I have been going over what we have lived together in the last two years: the time of a pandemic that shocked the world and our lives," he said on Friday in a 15-minute speech broadcast live from the Quirinale Presidential palace. Mattarella stressed -- "as an invaluable heritage of humanity" -- the self-sacrifice of physicians, healthcare workers and all those who have committed themselves to fight the coronavirus, Xinhua news agency reported. Then, he thanked common people who put their trust in science, followed the recommended anti-pandemic rules and chose to be vaccinated against Covid-19. "This means almost all Italians, which I want to thank for their maturity and sense of responsibility," he noted. On December 31, as the new Omicron virus variant is pushing up infections, Italy registered over 144,000 cases, the largest daily increase since the pandemic began. Yet, some 85.8 per cent of the population over 12 years has completed the vaccination cycle. This has so far allowed the country to largely contain the most serious cases of the disease and the number of people in need of hospitalisation and emergency care. "The vaccines are a valuable tool, not because they ensure invulnerability but because they allow us to reduce damages and risks for ourselves and for the others," he noted. Finally, recalling that Italy has shown tangible signs of economic recovery in 2021, and has managed the pandemic in a way that drew appreciation from other European major countries, Mattarella said. "My wishes for you are more intense than ever because -- along with the need to look at the New Year with confidence and hope -- I feel the need to thank each and everyone of you for having shown Italy's true face: hard-working, creative, and supportive," he added. /IANS


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