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Norway set to tighten Covid-19 travel advisory for Italy

Italy looked set to be added to Norway's ‘red' list of countries meaning travellers from the country will be obliged to undergo 10-days of quarantine after their arrival.

Norway set to tighten Covid-19 travel advisory for Italy
People bicycle past the enclosed entrance to the Venice Film Festival. Photo: AFP

The Norwegian Institute of Public Health (NIPH) has recommended that Italy be added to the foreign ministry's list of ‘red' countries due to rising Covid-19 infections.

NIPH has also recommended the government introduce entry quarantines to the Vatican City State, San Marino and Slovenia.

The requirement is set to be lifted for Cyprus, however.

The latter nation is set to have its status changed from ‘red’ to ‘yellow’ along with Swedish regions Örebro, Gotland, Värmland, Västernorrland, Jämtland and Västerbotten, as well as Zealand in Denmark.

The changes will apply from Saturday September 5th.

People arriving from ‘red' countries to Norway are required to self-quarantine for 10 days and the Norwegian foreign ministry advises against all non-essential travel to the countries.

NIPH regularly updates its list of EEA and Schengen area countries which meet the country's criteria for quarantine and makes recommendations to the foreign ministry on this basis. For fellow Nordic countries, the criteria are applied on a regional basis.

In order to be exempted from quarantine, the rate of new coronavirus infections must be less than 20 cases per 100,000 people in the last two weeks. Additionally, less than 5 percent of tests in the last two weeks may be positive. Figures are taken from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), the EU agency monitoring the data, as well as local authorities.

Italy's number of new coronavirus cases has on Tuesday increased for the fourth week in a row, with more than 1,300 currently active outbreaks in the country.

Italian health authorities reported 1,365 new cases on Monday, similar to numbers not seen since early May when the country was still under lockdown.

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In Norway, 'home quarantine' including for people arriving from 'red' countries means that person is asked to stay home from school or work, not have visitors, not use public transport and only visit shops or pharmacies if strictly necessary or not at all if it is not possible to maintain social distance. You may have normal contact with people you live with who are not in quarantine. You are also allowed to go outside for a walk if you maintain a one-metre distance from others at all times.

If you later suspect you have symptoms of coronavirus, you must isolate yourself completely and get tested for the virus. More details can be found on the health authority website.

Countries designated ‘yellow' are not encompassed by the quarantine rule but the foreign ministry also advises against travel to these countries.

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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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