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COVID-19: ESSENTIAL INFO

Italy registers more than 1,000 new Covid cases in a single day

Italy recorded more than 1,000 new cases of the novel coronavirus in the last 24 hours, the worst daily figure since lockdown was lifted in May, the health ministry reported on Saturday.

Italy registers more than 1,000 new Covid cases in a single day
The figure of 215 for Rome was a record, more than was ever recorded in March. Photo: Vincenzo Pinto/AFP
Officials in Rome said the capital region recorded 215 new coronavirus infections in the same period mainly because of people returning from holiday, the biggest such rise since lockdown in March.
   
The health ministry said Italy recorded 1,071 new cases of the novel coronavirus in the last day and three deaths, for the first time crossing the threshold of 1,000 infections since May 12.
   
It marks a relentless uptick in cases in the last few days, from 947 on Friday, 845 on Thursday and 642 on Wednesday.   
 
The figure of 215 for Rome is a record, more than the 208 people were infected in a one-day period on March 28, when Rome had come to a virtual standstill to stop the coronavirus spreading, the capital's health official Alessio D'Amato said.
 
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“Sixty-one percent (of the cases) are linked to people returning from vacation,” D'Amato said, almost half the cases were returning from the island of Sardinia.
 
   
Sardinia had been spared the first wave earlier this year but D'Amato said the movement of tourists and people partying had helped spread the virus.
   
Francesco Vaia, director of Rome's Spallanzani Hospital specialising in infectious diseases, told Italian media “the solution is to do tests on departing boats, planes and trains. This is the only way to prevent the virus spreading”.
 
D'Amato said most of those infected were young people who were not showing symptoms and it was urgent to “block the chain of transmission as fast as possible by finding the asymptomatic and averting the spread of the virus among families.
 
“Be very careful especially with your relatives and the people dearest to you,” he said in an appeal to the young.
   
He warned them to stay at home and not meet up with people while awaiting test results. “Don't feel invincible,” he urged them.
   
Italy — particularly the northern Lombardy region, the Venice area and Rome — are seeing a resurgence in the virus over the summer. 
 
The Italian government has taken several steps to block the spread, such as closing nightclubs since August 17 and making mask wearing compulsory in busy public spaces between 6 pm and 6 am.
   
Since the pandemic erupted, Italy has recorded more than 257,000 cases, including more than 35,000 dead.

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TRAVEL NEWS

Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

The mandatory EU-wide mask requirement for air travel is set to be dropped from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still require passengers to wear masks on some or all flights

Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

Europe-wide facemask rules on flights are set to be ditched as early as next week in light of new recommendations from health and air safety experts.

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) dropped recommendations for mandatory mask-wearing in airports and during flights in updated Covid-19 safety measures for travel issued on Wednesday, May 11th.

The new rules are expected to be rolled out from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still continue to require the wearing of masks on some or all of flights. And the updated health safety measures still say that wearing a face mask remains one of the best ways to protect against the transmission of the virus.

The joint EASA/ECDC statement reminded travellers that masks may still be required on flights to destinations in certain countries that still require the wearing of masks on public transport and in transport hubs.

It also recommends that vulnerable passengers should continue to wear a face mask regardless of the rules, ideally an FFP2/N95/KN95 type mask which offers a higher level of protection than a standard surgical mask.

“From next week, face masks will no longer need to be mandatory in air travel in all cases, broadly aligning with the changing requirements of national authorities across Europe for public transport,” EASA executive director Patrick Ky said in the statement. 

“For passengers and air crews, this is a big step forward in the normalisation of air travel. Passengers should however behave responsibly and respect the choices of others around them. And a passenger who is coughing and sneezing should strongly consider wearing a face mask, for the reassurance of those seated nearby.”  

ECDC director Andrea Ammon added: “The development and continuous updates to the Aviation Health Safety Protocol in light of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic have given travellers and aviation personnel better knowledge of the risks of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and its variants. 

“While risks do remain, we have seen that non-pharmaceutical interventions and vaccines have allowed our lives to begin to return to normal. 

“While mandatory mask-wearing in all situations is no longer recommended, it is important to be mindful that together with physical distancing and good hand hygiene it is one of the best methods of reducing transmission. 

“The rules and requirements of departure and destination states should be respected and applied consistently, and travel operators should take care to inform passengers of any required measures in a timely manner.”

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