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HEALTH

UPDATE: New coronavirus cases confirmed in Tuscany and Sicily

The first cases of the coronavirus have been detected in southern Italy and Tuscany after one person in Florence and another in Palermo tested positive, local authorities confirmed.

UPDATE: New coronavirus cases confirmed in Tuscany and Sicily
Photo: AFP

An Italian woman on holiday in Palermo has become the first person to test positive for the coronavirus in southern Italy, regional president Nello Musumeci has confirmed.

The woman, from Bergamo in the region of Lombardy, is now in isolation in Palermo's Cervello hospital. The people she was travelling with have also been placed under quarantine, local media reports.

The group had arrived in Sicily before the outbreak in the Lombardy region began last week, Musumeci told reporters, and the woman tested positive in hospital on Monday night.

In central Florence, a 60-year-old Italian businessman who had reportedly travelled to Singapore recently has been placed in isolation at the city's Ponte a Niccheri hospital after testing positive for the virus.

The man is the first person in Tuscany to test positive for the virus.

By Wednesday three cases had been confirmed in Sicily and two in Tuscany. There were also two cases confirmed in Liguria, known as the Italian Riviera.

MAP: Which parts of Italy are affected by coronavirus outbreak?

The majority of cases have been detected in the northern regions of Lombardy and Veneto.

The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus had risen to around 270 on Tuesday morning, according to Italian media reports.

Those infected included 101 who were being treated in hospital, 27 others who were in intensive care and 94 who were in self isolation.

According to the World Health Organisation more than 80 percent of patients infected with the virus have mild disease and recover, while 14 percent have severe diseases such as pneumonia.

Around five percent of all cases are considered critical and only two percent result in death.

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COVID-19

Covid-19: Are Italian live events at risk of being postponed?

As the infection rate rises sharply across the country, Italian virologists are calling for concerts and festivals to be rescheduled.

Covid-19: Are Italian live events at risk of being postponed?

Italy has seen a large increase in the number of Covid-19 cases in recent days, so much so that a number of virologists across the country are now urging the government to postpone major live events in a bid to curb infections. 

According to a new report by Italy’s independent health watchdog, the Gimbe Foundation, 595,349 new cases were recorded in the week from June 29th to July 5th; a worrying 55 percent increase on the previous week. 

In the same time span, the country also registered a 32.8 percent rise in the number of hospitalised patients, which went from 6,035 to 8,003.  

The latest Covid wave, which is being driven by the highly contagious Omicron 5 variant, is a “real cause for concern”, especially in terms of a “potential patient overload”, said Nino Cartabellotta, president of the Gimbe Foundation. 

As Italian cities prepare to host a packed calendar of concerts and festivals this summer, health experts are questioning whether such events should actually take place given the high risk of transmission associated with mass gatherings.

READ ALSO: What tourists in Italy need to know if they get Covid-19

“Rescheduling these types of events would be the best thing to do right now,” said Massimo Ciccozzi, Director of Epidemiology at Campus Bio-Medico University of Rome. 

The summer wave is expected to peak in mid-July but, Ciccozzi warns, the upcoming live events might “delay [the peak] until the end of July or even beyond” and extend the infection curve.

Antonello Maruotti, Professor of Statistics at LUMSA University of Rome, recently shared Ciccozzi’s concerns, saying that live events as big as Maneskin’s scheduled Rome concert are “definitely not a good idea”. 

The Italian rock band are slated to perform at the Circus Maximus on Saturday, July 9th but the expected turnout – over 70,000 fans are set to attend the event – has raised objections from an array of Italian doctors, with some warning that the concert might cause as many as 20,000 new cases.

If it were to materialise, the prospected scenario would significantly aggravate Lazio’s present medical predicament as there are currently over 186,000 Covid cases in the region (nearly 800 patients are receiving treatment in local hospitals). 

Italian rock band Maneskin performing in Turin

Italian rock band Maneskin are expected to perform at the Circus Maximus in Rome on Saturday, July 9th. Photo by Marco BERTORELLO / AFP

But, despite pleas to postpone the event, it is likely that Maneskin’s concert will take place as scheduled.

Alessandro Onorato, Rome’s Tourism Councillor, said that rescheduling is “out of question” and that “all recommendations from the local medical authorities will be adopted” with the help of the event’s organisers and staff on the ground.

At the time of writing, there is also no indication that the Italian government will consider postponing other major live events scheduled to take place in the coming weeks, though the situation is evolving rapidly and a U-turn on previous dispositions can’t be ruled out.

READ ALSO: At a glance: What are the Covid-19 rules in Italy now?

On this note, it is worth mentioning that Italy has now scrapped all of its former Covid measures except the requirement to wear FFP2 face masks on public transport (though not on planes) and in healthcare settings.

The use of face coverings is, however, still recommended in all crowded areas, including outdoors – exactly the point that leading Italian doctors are stressing in the hope that live events will not lead to large-scale infection.

Antonio Magi, President of Rome’s OMCEO (College of Doctors, Surgeons and Dentists), said: “Our advice is to wear FFP2 masks […] in high-risk situations.”

“I hope that young people will heed our recommendations and think about the health risks that their parents or grandparents might be exposed to after the event [they attend].”

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