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Italy extends Covid-19 travel ban to Bangladesh and Sri Lanka as well as India

Italy has banned travel from Bangladesh and Sri Lanka amid the coronavirus emergency in neighbouring India, as well as tightening quarantine rules for residents who have recently returned from one of those countries.

Italy extends Covid-19 travel ban to Bangladesh and Sri Lanka as well as India
Malpensa airport in Milan. Photo: Piero Cruciatti / AFP

In a new ordinance issued on April 29th, Health Minister Roberto Speranza extended Italy’s ban on arrivals from India to Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, in response to surging infections and a rapidly spreading new variant.

Under the new rules, only Italian citizens who live permanently in Italy are allowed to enter from any of the three countries. Previously foreign nationals resident in Italy had also been allowed to return.

READ ALSO: Italy bans arrivals from virus-hit India

The ordinance also tightens the quarantine rules for anyone returning from India, Bangladesh or Sri Lanka, who must now spend ten days in a “Covid hotel” where they can be monitored by local health authorities. 

Anyone travelling from one of the three countries must also test negative for coronavirus no more than 48 hours before departure, get another test on arrival, and finally take a third test after ten days in isolation.

People who arrived in Italy from one of these countries, or transited through them, in the 14 days before the latest ordinance – so since April 15th – should also contact the local health authorities to get tested and self-isolate at home for ten days, followed by another test.

A medical worker waits to test arriving passengers at Malpensa Airport in Milan. Photo: Piero Cruciatti / AFP

The travel restrictions apply until at least May 15th.

The move comes amid record case numbers in India, which reported more than 3,000 deaths on Wednesday alone. The variant linked to hundreds of thousands of new cases per day is already confirmed to have reached Italy, with reports of cases in Tuscany and Veneto.

READ ALSO: Indian coronavirus variant detected in northern Italy

Twenty-three people tested positive for coronavirus on a flight from New Delhi that landed in Rome on Wednesday night, local authorities said, out of 223 aboard.

All passengers were taken into supervised quarantine at specially converted hotels or military facilities near the capital, Rai reported, including those who tested negative.

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COVID-19

Covid-19: Are Italian live events at risk of being postponed?

As the infection rate rises sharply across the country, Italian virologists are calling for concerts and festivals to be rescheduled.

Covid-19: Are Italian live events at risk of being postponed?

Italy has seen a large increase in the number of Covid-19 cases in recent days, so much so that a number of virologists across the country are now urging the government to postpone major live events in a bid to curb infections. 

According to a new report by Italy’s independent health watchdog, the Gimbe Foundation, 595,349 new cases were recorded in the week from June 29th to July 5th; a worrying 55 percent increase on the previous week. 

In the same time span, the country also registered a 32.8 percent rise in the number of hospitalised patients, which went from 6,035 to 8,003.  

The latest Covid wave, which is being driven by the highly contagious Omicron 5 variant, is a “real cause for concern”, especially in terms of a “potential patient overload”, said Nino Cartabellotta, president of the Gimbe Foundation. 

As Italian cities prepare to host a packed calendar of concerts and festivals this summer, health experts are questioning whether such events should actually take place given the high risk of transmission associated with mass gatherings.

READ ALSO: What tourists in Italy need to know if they get Covid-19

“Rescheduling these types of events would be the best thing to do right now,” said Massimo Ciccozzi, Director of Epidemiology at Campus Bio-Medico University of Rome. 

The summer wave is expected to peak in mid-July but, Ciccozzi warns, the upcoming live events might “delay [the peak] until the end of July or even beyond” and extend the infection curve.

Antonello Maruotti, Professor of Statistics at LUMSA University of Rome, recently shared Ciccozzi’s concerns, saying that live events as big as Maneskin’s scheduled Rome concert are “definitely not a good idea”. 

The Italian rock band are slated to perform at the Circus Maximus on Saturday, July 9th but the expected turnout – over 70,000 fans are set to attend the event – has raised objections from an array of Italian doctors, with some warning that the concert might cause as many as 20,000 new cases.

If it were to materialise, the prospected scenario would significantly aggravate Lazio’s present medical predicament as there are currently over 186,000 Covid cases in the region (nearly 800 patients are receiving treatment in local hospitals). 

Italian rock band Maneskin performing in Turin

Italian rock band Maneskin are expected to perform at the Circus Maximus in Rome on Saturday, July 9th. Photo by Marco BERTORELLO / AFP

But, despite pleas to postpone the event, it is likely that Maneskin’s concert will take place as scheduled.

Alessandro Onorato, Rome’s Tourism Councillor, said that rescheduling is “out of question” and that “all recommendations from the local medical authorities will be adopted” with the help of the event’s organisers and staff on the ground.

At the time of writing, there is also no indication that the Italian government will consider postponing other major live events scheduled to take place in the coming weeks, though the situation is evolving rapidly and a U-turn on previous dispositions can’t be ruled out.

READ ALSO: At a glance: What are the Covid-19 rules in Italy now?

On this note, it is worth mentioning that Italy has now scrapped all of its former Covid measures except the requirement to wear FFP2 face masks on public transport (though not on planes) and in healthcare settings.

The use of face coverings is, however, still recommended in all crowded areas, including outdoors – exactly the point that leading Italian doctors are stressing in the hope that live events will not lead to large-scale infection.

Antonio Magi, President of Rome’s OMCEO (College of Doctors, Surgeons and Dentists), said: “Our advice is to wear FFP2 masks […] in high-risk situations.”

“I hope that young people will heed our recommendations and think about the health risks that their parents or grandparents might be exposed to after the event [they attend].”

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