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HEALTH

Here’s what you should know before booking a trip from the UK to Italy

There has been a surge in flight bookings to Italy since the British government announced its lockdown exit plan on Monday. But tourists will need to check the restrictions that apply here before booking a holiday.

Here's what you should know before booking a trip from the UK to Italy
If you're hoping to book a summer holiday in Italy this year, here's what you need to know. Photo: AFP

Airlines including Ryanair have reported a sharp rise in bookings to Italy from the UK this week after Prime Minister Boris Johson on Monday said international trips could potentially restart from May 17th, 2021.

But eager British holidaymakers may not be factoring in that in order for a holiday in Italy to be possible, Italy's rules would also have to change.

EXPLAINED: Who can travel to Italy right now?

Italy currently has a ban in place on almost all arrivals from Britain amid concern over the new virus variants detected in the UK.

Only legal residents of Italy are currently allowed to enter the country from the UK.

British people who own second homes in Italy but aren't residents are also unable to enter the country until further notice.

The ban also affects people hoping to visit family members, partners or friends in Italy.

The Italian government has not said when it may lift the restriction, but it's not likely for a while with a new increase in coronavirus cases being attributed largely to new variants.

READ ALSO: Where and how much are coronavirus cases rising in Italy?

Photo: AFP

The restriction on arrivals from Britain was first imposed at the end of December.

Those who are allowed to enter Italy from the UK will be required to take two coronavirus tests – one before and one after the flight – and to undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine after arriving in Italy.

(See more details of the current travel rules in a separate article here.)

There were also cases in early January of British passengers with Italian residency being denied boarding by airport staff who did not recognise their documents as valid.

Reader question: Can I travel between Italy and the UK via France?

It is worth noting that Italy still has tough coronavirus rules in place within the country, including the mandatory wearing of masks in public at all times, which are strictly enforced with fines up to 1,000 euros for non-compliance.

Restaurants, bars and other businesses are currently closed in around half of the country, travel between Italian regions is banned, and there is a 10pm curfew in place.

These rules are expected to stay in place for the foreseeable future, as Italy struggles to keep its coronavirus infection rate under control.

While some European countries including Spain are pushing for a vaccine passport scheme to help tourism restart, this is not something the Italian government is currently considering – even though some regional authorities, such as Sardinia’s, are in favour of the idea.

Italy’s tourism minister has indicated that the country is keen to restart tourism as soon as infection rates and vaccination campaigns allow for it. But it’s too early to say yet whether this will coincide with the UK’s suggested date of May 17th.

The British government’s travel task force will report on April 12th as to whether international summer holidays can go ahead.

For now, the spread of Covid variants and the ongoing vaccination roll-outs mean that for now it’s still hard to know when the right time to book a flight to Italy will be.

We will publish any updates from Italian authorities relating to travel from the UK as soon as they are announced. You can see all the latest  travel news from Italy here.
 
For more information on international travel to and from Italy, see the Foreign Ministry's website 

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MONKEYPOX

Semen ‘a vehicle’ for monkeypox infection, say Italian health experts

Researchers in Italy who were first to identify the presence of monkeypox in semen are broadening their testing, saying early results suggest sperm can transmit infection.

Semen 'a vehicle' for monkeypox infection, say Italian health experts

A team at Rome’s Spallanzani Hospital, which specialises in infectious diseases, revealed in a study published on June 2nd that the virus DNA was detected in semen of three out of four men diagnosed with monkeypox.

They have since expanded their work, according to director Francesco Vaia, who said researchers have found the presence of monkeypox in the sperm of 14 infected men out of 16 studied.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: How is Italy dealing with rising monkeypox cases?

“This finding tells us that the presence of the virus in sperm is not a rare or random occurrence,” Vaia told AFP in an interview.

He added: “The infection can be transmitted during sexual intercourse by direct contact with skin lesions, but our study shows that semen can also be a vehicle for infection.”

Researchers at Spallanzani identified Italy’s first cases of monkeypox, found in two men who had recently returned from the Canary Islands.

The latest results reported by Vaia have not yet been published or subject to peer review.

Since early May, a surge of monkeypox cases has been detected outside of the West and Central African countries where the disease has long been endemic. Most of the new cases have been in Western Europe.

More than 3,400 confirmed cases and one death have now been reported to the World Health Organisation from more than 50 countries this year.

The vast majority of cases so far have been observed in men who have sex with men, of young age, chiefly in urban areas, in “clustered social and sexual networks”, according to the WHO.

It is investigating cases of semen testing positive for monkeypox, but has maintained the virus is primarily spread through close contact.

Meg Doherty, director of the WHO’s global HIV, hepatitis and sexually-transmitted infection programmes, said last week: “We are not calling this a sexually-transmitted infection.”

Could antivirals curb the spread of monkeypox?

Spallanzani researchers are now trying to ascertain how long the virus is present in sperm after the onset of symptoms.

In one patient, virus DNA was detected three weeks after symptoms first appeared, even after lesions had disappeared – a phenomenon Vaia said had been seen in the past in viral infections such as Zika.

That could indicate that the risk of transmission of monkeypox could be lowered by the use of condoms in the weeks after recovery, he said.

The Spallanzani team is also looking at vaginal secretions to study the presence of the virus.

A significant finding from the first study was that when the virus was cultured in the lab, it was “present in semen as a live, infectious virus efficient in reproducing itself”, Vaia told AFP.

Vaia cautioned that there remained many unanswered questions on monkeypox, including whether antiviral therapies could shorten the time in which people with the virus could infect others.

Another is whether the smallpox vaccine could protect people from the monkeypox virus.

“To study this we will analyse people who were vaccinated 40 years ago before human smallpox was declared to have disappeared,” Vaia said.

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