*Note: This article is no longer being updated. For the latest news click here.*
As the Italian government on Monday announced the latest set of restrictions aimed at stemming the spread of Covid-19, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said in his speech to parliament's lower house that the “epidemiological picture is in the process of transition towards scenario 4, with particular reference to some regions.”
But what exactly does that mean?
Here's a closer look at how Italy decides what measures to take in response to the changing coronavirus situation.
What is 'scenario 4'?
Italy's Higher Health Institute (ISS) earlier this year set out four “risk scenarios” with guidance on appropriate measures for the government to take in each case, in plans titled 'Prevention and response to Covid-19″.
Scenario 4 is the last and most serious provided for in the ISS plan.
Health experts on Friday confirmed that the situation in Italy overall currently corresponds to that described in the less-severe scenario 3, but ministers warn that some areas are already in scenario 4.
The main difference between the two is the Rt number (the rate of transmission), as well as whether the origin of new outbreaks can be successfully traced or not.
Scenario 3 is characterized by “sustained and widespread transmissibility” of the virus with “risks of maintaining the health system in the medium term”, and Rt rates at a regional level between 1.25 and 1.5, the ISS writes.
The Rt rate rose to 1.70 in the week between October 8 and 21, the latest ISS weekly report said, with significant regional variations.
Which regions are in scenario 4 right now?
Four regions – Calabria, Emilia Romagna, Lombardy, and Piedmont – plus the autonomous province of Bolzano are already in the phase 4 scenario, the ISS said in a report published last week.
Eleven more regions were defined as being at high risk: Abruzzo, Basilicata, Calabria, Liguria, Lombardy, Piedmont, Puglia, Sicily, Tuscany, Valle d'Aosta and Veneto.
Conte said on Monday that the number of at-risk regions would soon rise to 15.
The country is to be divided into three bands, with differing “scientific and objective” criteria approved by the Higher Institute of Health, he said.
The worst-affected regions, which he named as Lombardy, Calabria and Piedmont, would face the toughest restrictions.