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Coronavirus: The everyday precautions to take if you’re in Italy

Here's the latest official advice on staying safe during the coronavirus outbreak in Italy. (Paywall Free)

Coronavirus: The everyday precautions to take if you're in Italy
Photo: AFP

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What precautions are advised?

The Italian government has published guidelines aimed at reducing the risk of contracting the virus.

The advice is much the same as that issued during flu season and involves taking a few basic precautions.

You should take the same precautions in Italy that you would anywhere else:

  • Wash hands thoroughly and often with soap and water, especially after coughing and sneezing or before eating.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth, especially with unwashed hands.
  • Cover your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoid close contact with people who have symptoms of respiratory illness.
  • Wear a mask if you suspect you are ill, or if you are assisting someone else who is ill.
  • Clean off surfaces with alcohol- or chlorine-based disinfectants.

People are also advised not to take any antibiotics or antiviral medication unless they have been prescribed by a doctor.

And you don't need to worry about handling anything made or shipped from China, nor about catching coronavirus from (or giving it to) a pet.

You can find the latest information and health advice regarding the coronavirus outbreak in Italy from the Italian Health Ministry, your country's embassy, or the World Health Organization.

Do I need to wear a mask?

The WHO and the Italian government have stated that the masks are only useful if you're already ill, or if you're a health professional assisting people who are ill.


Shoppers wearing masks in northern Italy. Photo: Miguel Medina/AFP

“Hygiene measures (washing your hands) and avoiding close contact, just as for the flu, is enough to avoid spreading the pathogens,” said the president of the Federation of Italian Pharmacists, Andrea Mandelli.

Other experts, however, say wearing a mask as a precaution – i.e., even if you don't have symptoms – could help reduce the risk that infected people will spread the virus to others before they realise they're ill. 

Read what other countries advise about face masks here.

And as of early April, some regions of Italy have made face masks compulsory in supermarkets or even just on the street. 

READ ALSO: Where should I wear a face mask in Italy?

What should I do if I think I have symptoms of coronavirus?

If you develop a fever, cough or have difficulty breathing either in Italy or within 14 days of travelling here, you need to seek medical advice immediately but without endangering others.

Emergency rooms in affected areas have been closed. Photo: AFP

Do not go straight to a hospital or doctor's surgery. In Italy, call the government's coronavirus hotline on 1500 for emergency advice in English, Italian or Chinese.

READ ALSO: Coronavirus in Italy: The phone numbers and websites you need to know about

If you have any questions or concerns while in Italy, you can call one of the regional information lines set up specifically for that purpose.

If you're already back home, call your doctor and inform them that you recently travelled to Italy.

Until you've been tested for the virus, avoid further travel or contact with others.

According to the WHO, around 80 percent of people who contract the new coronavirus recover without needing special treatment.

Around one out of every six people who gets COVID-19 becomes seriously ill and develops difficulty breathing.

Only around two percent of cases are fatal. Older people and those with underlying medical problems like high blood pressure, heart problems or diabetes, are more likely to develop serious illness.

Find all The Local's coverage of the coronavirus outbreak in Italy here

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This means that new or occasional readers can read articles for free. On urgent need-to-know articles and official advice about coronavirus, we are also dropping the paywall completely. That includes this article. 
 
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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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