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HEALTH

Covid-19: Sardinia loses ‘white zone’ status as Italy updates regional restrictions

There will be no more white zones in Italy from Monday after the health ministry on Friday made its weekly update to the zone system.

Covid-19: Sardinia loses 'white zone' status as Italy updates regional restrictions
Photo: Miguel Medina/AFP

Sardinia, Italy’s only ‘white’ zone region, has been reclassified as orange amid concerns about rising coronavirus case numbers.

The region of Molise meanwhile is has been downgraded from red to orange as the situation has improved, the health ministry said in a statement.

The changes will come into effect on Monday, March 22nd – meaning all of Italy will be in either the red or orange zone, both of which mean significant restrictions on movement.

Most of Italy effectively went back under lockdown on Monday with new restrictions under the country’s tiered system of coronavirus rules.

READ ALSO: What are the Italian lockdown rules in your region?

The island of Sardinia had been the only region not subject to these restrictions. Since March 1st, it has been the only part of the country where bars and restaurants could open at night, and most restrictions had been relaxed,

But Health Minister Roberto Speranza ordered Sardinia moved to a medium-risk “orange” category, effective Monday, following a spike in its R value.

The R value measures how fast the virus is spreading, and any value above 1 means a growing epidemic. Sardinia’s weekly reading rose from 0.89 to 1.08, prompting the tougher restrictions rules.

Nevertheless, Sardinia is still doing better than the rest of Italy, with only 43 coronavirus cases per 100,000 residents, compared to a national average of more than 250.

Friday’s update also confirmed that nine regions and autonomous provinces will remain red until at least Easter: Campania, Emilia Romagna, Friuli Venezia Giulia, Lombardy, Marche, Piedmont, Puglia, Veneto, and Trentino-Alto Adige.

Other regions could have their classifications reviewed in the next update on Friday March 26th.

MAP: Which zone is each region in under Italy’s lockdown?

More than 104,000 people with coronavirus have died in Italy over the past 13 months, and variants are fuelling a third wave of the virus that is putting hospitals under renewed stress.

Hospital wards have reached critical occupancy levels in 13 out of 21 regions, according to a weekly report from the ISS health institute and the health ministry.

Coronavirus risks increased “for the seventh week in a row,” the report said, stressing the need for continued “maximum level” mitigation measures.

Under updated rules, every region with more than 250 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, according to official weekly health data, will now be automatically placed in the highest-risk red zone.

Red zone rules mean the closure of all schools, restaurants, bars, non-essential shops and hairdressers as well as tight restriction on movement. Anyone leaving the house will need to justify doing so using a self-declaration form.

In the orange zone, shops and schools can remain open and movement within your region is permitted.

READ ALSO: Here’s the form you need to leave the house in Italy’s ‘red zones’

Italy’s new restrictions are in place until Easter, when the whole nation will be placed in a ‘red’ zone over the weekend of April 3-5, government officials have confirmed.

The Easter restrictions will not apply in white zones, the prime minister’s office confirmed on Friday.

Find out where to get the latest information for your local area here.

Please note The Local is not able to advise on specific situations.  For more information on the restrictions please see the Italian Health Ministry’s website (in English).

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HEALTH

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).

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