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HEALTH

Police to bring elderly Italians their pensions during coronavirus crisis

Carabinieri are offering to collect pension payments for the elderly in Italy's latest strategy to keep people at home during the coronavirus outbreak.

Police to bring elderly Italians their pensions during coronavirus crisis
Pensioners in Italy can seeking help getting their pension payments during the coronavirus outbreak. Photo: Marco Bertorello/AFP

Pensioners aged 75 and over who usually collect their payments from post offices in cash can ask police officers to pick up their money for them and deliver it to their home, Italy's Carabinieri military police force announced on Monday.

READ ALSO: The coronavirus phone numbers and websites you need to know about

Some 23,000 elderly people are eligible for the scheme, which does not apply to pensioners who have already delegated someone else to pick up their payments, who have a bank account with the Italian Post, or who live with or near family members.

The service is designed to save vulnerable older people a trip to their local post offices, which remain open throughout Italy's nationwide lockdown but are often crowded due to shorter opening hours.

It will be provided throughout Italy's coronavirus emergency.

Anyone who would like more more information on the scheme should call the Post Office helpline on 800 55 66 70, or contact their nearest Carabinieri station (find yours here). 

READ ALSO: The coronavirus financial help available in Italy and how to claim it

Delivering pensions is the latest initiative aimed at cutting back on Italian bureaucracy in the time of coronavirus. 

Others include automatically extending the validity of residence permits, ID cards and driver's licences due to expire soon so that people aren't obliged to go in person to renew them, and introducing an 'Electronic Prescription Number' that allows doctors to prescribe medication by email, phone, text or messaging app without the need for a paper prescription.

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HEALTH

Cases of West Nile fever surge in northern Italy

Italy recorded a spike in cases of West Nile fever in the past week and remains by far the worst-affected country in Europe, new data shows.

Cases of West Nile fever surge in northern Italy

Italy has recorded more than 50 new West Nile virus infections in a week, with a total number of 144 cases and ten fatalities this summer so far.

This equated to a 53 percent increase in cases over the last seven days, Italy’s Higher Health Institute (ISS) said in a report published on Thursday.

Three more people died from the virus in the last week, bringing the total death toll up to 10. 

All known cases and deaths so far were in the northern Italian regions of Veneto, Piedmont, Lombardy and Emilia-Romagna.

The infection is not new to Italy, but this summer has brought the highest number of cases recorded yet.

READ ALSO: Italy reports a surge in deaths this summer due to extreme heat

Cases remain relatively rare in Europe overall, but Italy has by far the largest number.

According to the most recent report from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), dated August 3rd, 120 cases were recorded this year so far – 94 of which were in Italy.

Greece reported 23 cases, Romania two and Slovakia one. Only Italy has reported fatalities.

Carried by birds, West Nile virus is transmitted to humans by mosquitoes.

West Nile fever cannot pass from human to human and most infected people show no symptoms, according to the ISS.

In healthy people the virus is unlikely to cause more than a headache or sore throat. 

The infection is usually only dangerous for people with weakened immune systems such as the elderly, and the most severe symptoms occur in fewer than one percent of infected people.

There is no vaccine for West Nile fever. “Currently vaccines are being studied, but for the moment prevention consists mainly in reducing exposure to mosquito bites,” the ISS states.

Italy’s health authorities advises taking precautions against mosquitos, especially during the insects’ peak activity at sunrise and sunset. Recommendations include:

  • Use repellent.
  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and long trousers.
  • Sleep in rooms with air-conditioning where possible and keep windows closed or screened.
  • Use mosquito nets.

See more information on West Nile fever in Italy on the health ministry’s website.

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