‘The risk rises sharply’: Italy to ban singing when schools reopen

Singing increases the risk of coronavirus transmission and must be banned in Italian schools when they reopen from September 14th, government health advisors said on Friday.

'The risk rises sharply': Italy to ban singing when schools reopen
Most Italian schools are set to reopen from September 14th, but the Covid-19 safety rules are still being finalised. File photo: AFP
The government's technical and scientific committee (CTS) ruling against singing in class was backed by Italian virologist Andrea Crisanti, who said in an interview on the Rai 3 TV channel that “It's better to avoid singing in the classroom”.
He said “the risk of spreading the virus rises sharply,” citing a recent study which found that “if there is one positive case in a choir they can infect 50.“
“The droplets of breath have a fall radius of two meters, which can increase with singing,” Crisanti explained. “Masks can help but I don't know how much. Nobody knows what the minimum distance is to sing together safely”.
Crisanti also reportedly said he believes students should wear masks when seated at their desks in school to minimise the risks. Current official guidelines state masks only need to be worn when moving around school premises.
Face masks are set to be mandatory for all children over the age of six when in school except for gym class, eating in canteens and answering a teacher.
Italian authorities also said they have also delivered 2.4 million individual desks to allow better distancing, and will hand out millions of face masks and as well as 170,000 litres of disinfectant gel every week.
However some teachers have voiced concerns about everything from a lack of clarity on protocols, to concerns about the potential risks involved with teachers having to travel weekly across Italy to work and back.
Meanwhile on Friday, a survey found that seven out of 10 parents are worried about the reopening of schools.
The main causes for concern were uncertainty about the rules and financial insecurity, according to the results of the survey by charity Save the Children.

Several regions including Puglia, Calabria and Abruzzo have postponed reopening until September 24th, and others are considering doing the same.
Most regions' schools will go back on September 14th, while the Bolzano region restarts classes on the 7th.

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Italian monkeypox cases rise to seven

Five infections have now been confirmed in Rome, as well as one in Tuscany and one in Lombardy, Italian health authorities said.

Italian monkeypox cases rise to seven

The total number Italian monkeypox cases rose to seven on Wednesday as a new case was reported by the Spallanzani hospital for infectious diseases in Rome.

Spallanzani is treating six cases: five found in Lazio and one in Tuscany, while the Sacco Hospital in Milan is treating one patient from the Lombardy region.

“There is no alarm, but the infection surveillance system is at a state of maximum attention,” Lazio’s regional health councillor Alessio D’Amato told the Ansa news agency.

Researchers at Spallanzani said the new cases are thought to be “part of a pan-European cluster” linked to cases in the Canary Islands, Ansa reported.

The first Italian case of monkey smallpox, or monkeypox, was also found in a man who had recently returned from the Canary Islands, doctors said last Thursday.

More than 250 monkeypox cases have now been reported in at least 16 countries where the virus isn’t endemic, almost all in Europe, according to the World Health Organization.

They are mostly in Spain, the UK and Portugal, with single-digit cases in Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Denmark, the Netherlands, Sweden, and Switzerland, as well as Italy.

READ ALSO: What is Spain doing to deal with rising monkeypox cases?

The illness has infected thousands of people in parts of Central and Western Africa in recent years, but is rare in Europe and North Africa.

Monkeypox is known to spread via close contact with an animal or human with the virus. It can be transmitted via bodily fluids, lesions, respiratory droplets or through contaminated materials, such as bedding.

Its symptoms are similar but somewhat milder than those of smallpox: fever, headache, muscle aches, back pain, chills, exhaustion, although it also causes the lymph nodes to swell up.

Within one to three days, the patient develops a rash, often beginning on the face then spreading to other parts of the body. 

Although most monkeypox cases aren’t serious, studies have shown that one in ten people who contract the disease in Africa die from it.

The unprecedented outbreak of the monkeypox virus has put the international community on alert.

On Monday, the European Union urged member states to take steps to ensure positive cases, close contacts, and even pets be quarantined as this is a zoonotic virus (a virus that spreads from animals to humans).