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HEALTH

Covid-19: Italy warns of increase in ICU admissions as new cases continue to rise

Health experts warned of a 62 percent weekly increase in the number of Covid-19 patients admitted to intensive care, as another 1,733 new cases were reported on Friday.

Covid-19: Italy warns of increase in ICU admissions as new cases continue to rise
Photo: Vincenzo Pinto/AFP
The figure reported by Italy's department for Civil Protection on Friday was a new post-lockdown high, with similar numbers last seen on May 2nd before restrictions were eased.
 
The number of new cases of the virus reported in Italy has been on the rise for several weeks now after falling to an average of below 200 daily cases in July.
 

Italy analysed a record 113,085 coronavirus swabs in the last 24 hours, up from yesterday's 92,790. On both days, 2.2 percent of all swabs came back positive.
 
Italy is of course not alone in seeing this trend of rising new cases, with numbers rising in many European countries: neighbouring France reported more than 7,000 new cases on Thursday as well as a similar rise in intensive care admissions.
 
Until last week however the number of people becoming seriously ill due to Covid-19 in Italy stayed fairly stable, and the majority of cases were reported to be asymptomatic, prompting some to hope that the virus had weakened and become milder.
 
But Italy has reported a steady growth in the number of hospitalisations, and a sudden increase in the crucial number of Covid-19 patients in intensive care.
 
 

 
Overall, ICU admissions have risen by 62 percent in a week according to Italy's evidence-based medicine foundation, GIMBE.
 
One more patient was admitted to intensive care in Italy due to Covid-19 on Friday for total of 121 – up from 70 a week ago.
 
The number of patients in intensive care is a key figure, both for hospital capacity and for the likely future death toll.
 
 
“This week the increasing trend of hospitalizations is confirmed, and that of patients in intensive care is soaring,” stated GIMBE foundation president Dr Nino Cartabellotta in a report published on September 1st. “These are signs the epidemic is returning in our country, on the eve of the crucial moment of the reopening of schools.”
 
“Fortunately, the numbers are still small and do not show any signs of overloading hospital services. The constantly increasing trend, together with the increase in infections, however, invites us to keep our guard very high in the coming weeks.”

At the height of the epidemic Italy had more than 4,000 Covid-19 patients in intensive care, which put a massive strain on the healthcare system.

There were 11 further deaths reported in Italy in the past 24 hours, and 537 more patients were classed as recovered.

 

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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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