Italy warns of new infections brought back by Italians holidaying abroad

Italy sounded the alarm on Monday over the rise in coronavirus cases in fellow European countries after a spike in the number of infections discovered among returning Italian holidaymakers.

Italy warns of new infections brought back by Italians holidaying abroad
International tourists arrive in Greece. Photo: Angelos Tzortzinis/AFP

“Not to worry [about new cases from abroad] would be unconscionable,” Health Minister Roberto Speranza told the Corriere della Sera daily, which noted: “France, Spain and the Balkans… Italy is surrounded by contagions”.

READ ALSO: 'Italy should be wary of tourists, not vice versa': The verdict on visiting Italy this summer

Fear over new outbreaks imported by returning vacationers has been fuelled by the much-publicised case of 30 young Italians from the Veneto region who holidayed in Croatia and returned with coronavirus at the start of August.

Meanwhile in Tuscany a dozen young people who returned from a trip to the Greek island of Corfu have since tested positive, as has the mother of one of the group.

As well as banning non-essential travel from most countries outside Europe, Italy is closed to residents of Bosnia, Serbia, North Macedonia and Montenegro, while people arriving from Romania and Bulgaria are obliged to spend 14 days in quarantine.

READ ALSO: Italy's latest travel rules, explained

Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP

Though the first European country to be hit hard by the virus back in February, Italy has since reaped the rewards of a strict nationwide lockdown and social distancing policy. On Sunday it reported just two deaths from the virus.

Case numbers are rising, however, with 463 new infections reported over a 24-hour period.

READ ALSO: Italy warns of uptick in coronavirus infections as reproduction number rises

But that is a markedly better performance than that of Spain — which leads the way in the number of new infections recorded over the past two weeks, followed by Romania, France, Germany, Britain and Poland.

“We have to be ready: over the next two weeks, the number of contagions on their return [from abroad] will increase,” Rodolfo Punzi, director of the infectious diseases department at Naples' Cotugno hospital, told the Stampa daily.

Member comments

  1. Having read the latest reports about the coronavirus being brought back into Italy (and other countries) from holidaymakers I felt compelled to comment.
    I can understand people wanting to take a holiday abroad for some sunshine, a change of scenery and to get away from it all. What I can’t understand is going to places where there are crowds of people such as nightclubs, athletic gatherings and the like. I understand from reading other media that the Italians who brought back COVID from Corfu had been to these places. I also read that the youngsters in the nightclubs weren’t wearing masks. We all need to be responsible and not be influenced what other people do and say when it comes to staying safe. Just because other people aren’t wearing masks doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. Parents must instil this into their children to keep them safe. Greece has worked hard to keep the coronavirus under control with only 221 deaths in a population of 10.7 million and not one doctor treating COVID patients has died and there have been no deaths in nursing homes. They reacted quickly and efficiently when the first case was diagnosed on 26 February to start cancelling large gatherings. It is up to us to be responsible and stop the spread before things get worse.

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Former Italian PM faces investigation over Covid response

Italian prime minister Giuseppe Conte is set to undergo a judicial inquiry over claims his government's response to the Covid-19 outbreak in early 2020 was too slow.

Former Italian PM faces investigation over Covid response

Prosecutors in Bergamo, the northern city that was one of the epicentres of the coronavirus outbreak in Europe, targeted Conte after wrapping up their three-year inquiry, according to media reports.

Conte, now president of the populist Five Star movement, was prime minister from 2018 to 2021 and oversaw the initial measures taken to halt the spread of what would become a global pandemic.

Investigating magistrates suspect that Conte and his government underestimated the contagiousness of Covid-19 even though available data showed that cases were spreading rapidly in Bergamo and the surrounding region.

They note that in early March 2020 the government did not create a “red zone” in two areas hit hardest by the outbreak, Nembro and Alzano Lombardo, even though security forces were ready to isolate the zone from the rest of the country.

READ ALSO: ‘Not offensive’: Italian minister defends Covid testing rule for China arrivals

Red zones had already been decreed in late February for around a dozen other nearby municipalities including Codogno, the town where the initial Covid case was reportedly found.

Conte’s health minister Roberto Speranza as well as the president of the Lombardy region, Attilio Fontana, are also under investigation, the reports said.

Bergamo prosecutors allege that according to scientific experts, earlier quarantines could have saved thousands of lives.

Conte, quoted by Il Corriere della Sera and other media outlets, said he was “unworried” by the inquiry, saying his government had acted “with the utmost commitment and responsibility during one of the most difficult moments of our republic.”

READ ALSO: Italy’s constitutional court upholds Covid vaccine mandate as fines kick in

Similar cases have been lodged against officials elsewhere, alleging that authorities failed to act quickly enough against a virus that has killed an estimated 6.8 million people worldwide since early 2020.

In January, France’s top court threw out a case against former health minister Agnes Buzyn, a trained doctor, over her allegedly “endangering the lives of others” by initially playing down the severity of Covid-19.