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HEALTH

MAP: Where in Italy are coronavirus cases falling fastest?

The number of new coronavirus cases being detected in Italy continues to decline overall, but the situation varies considerably across the country.

MAP: Where in Italy are coronavirus cases falling fastest?
Restaurants are now open, for outdoor service only, in areas with lower case numbers. Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP/DataWrapper

As the Italian government announced its plan for gradual reopening at the end of April, health experts and doctors’ unions warned that it would not be safe to reopen until certain criteria were met.

These included having a seven-day average incidence rate of 50 cases per 100,000 – a rate which experts say is low enough to allow effective testing and tracing.

The most recent weekly health data report, compiled by Italian health ministry and the Higher Health Institute (ISS), showed another decrease in the weekly incidence rate: down to 146 per 100,000 inhabitants in the week ending April 25th from 157 per 100,000 for the week ending April 18th.

“Although the vaccination campaign is progressing faster and faster, overall, the incidence remains high and is still far from the level (50 per 100,000) that would allow the containment of new cases,” stated the report.

This figure is a national average, and the situation varies considerably around the country – as do the current restrictions in place, which can change depending on the weekly health data in each Italian region.

But no region is yet below the 50 in 100,000 threshold.

The figure is currently highest in Valle d’Aosta (204 per 100,000) and Campania (191), and lowest in Molise (64) and Sardinia (68).

Six regions currently remain under tighter coronavirus restrictions, in part due to the higher infection rates locally.

However most regions are now designated lower-risk ‘yellow’ zones, where many restrictions on business openings and movement have been relaxed.

It won’t be known what impact these initial reopenings have had on the infection rate until data becomes available in mid-May, when further relaxations to the rules are planned.

READ ALSO: Schools, restaurants, gyms, travel: Here’s Italy’s new timetable for reopening

It’s expected that the number of new infections will start to drop faster as Italy’s vaccination campaign progresses.

However, Italian authorities don’t expect to have the majority of people in the country vaccinated until autumn, and say that continued health measures are the only way to get numbers down in the meantime.

Even those who have received the first dose of the vaccine must “continue to be cautious”, said ISS president Silvio Brusaferro at a press conference on Friday.

“First of all because it takes two to three weeks before a first immune response forms, which is complete after the second dose. Masks and distancing will still be needed until a large part of the population is vaccinated, because even those who are immunized cannot exclude the risk of infecting those who are not.”

Around 25 percent of Italy’s population has had one dose of the vaccine so far, while just over ten percent is fully vaccinated, official figures show.

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COVID-19

Reader Question: What are Italy’s Covid quarantine rules for travellers?

Italy's quarantine rules have changed so many times over the past couple of years, it can be hard to keep track. Here's the latest information on when and how visitors need to self-isolate.

Reader Question: What are Italy's Covid quarantine rules for travellers?

Question: “One of your recent articles says you can exit quarantine by testing negative for the coronavirus. But you can also exit quarantine by obtaining a Letter of Recovery from Covid-19… true?”

Unfortunately, official proof of having recovered from Covid-19 won’t get you out of the requirement to self-isolate if you test positive for Covid while visiting Italy – though it can shorten your quarantine period.

Anyone who tests positive in Italy is required to immediately self-isolate for a minimum of seven days: that’s if the person in question is fully vaccinated and boosted, or has completed their primary vaccination cycle or recovered from Covid less than 120 days ago.

That period is extended to 10 days for those who aren’t fully vaccinated and boosted, or those who recovered from Covid or completed their primary vaccination cycle more than 120 days ago.

READ ALSO: Travel in Italy and Covid rules this summer: what to expect

In either case, the infected person must have been symptomless for at least three days in order to exit quarantine (with the exception of symptoms relating to a lost sense of taste or smell, which can persist for some time after the infection is over).

The patient must also test negative for the virus via either a molecular (PCR) or rapid antigen test on the final day of the quarantine in order to be allowed out.

Quarantined people who keep testing positive for the virus can be kept in self-isolation for a maximum of 21 days, at which point they will be automatically released.

Italy does not currently require visitors from any country to test negative in order to enter its borders, as long as they are fully boosted or were recently vaccinated/ have recently recovered from Covid.

READ ALSO: How tourists and visitors can get a coronavirus test in Italy

Some countries (including the US), however, do require people travelling from Italy to test negative before their departure – which means visitors at the tail end of their journey could be hit with the unpleasant surprise of finding out they need to quarantine for another week in Italy instead of heading home as planned.

It’s because of this rule that a number of The Local’s readers told us they wouldn’t be coming on holiday to Italy this summer, and intend to postpone for another year.

If you are planning on visiting Italy from a country that requires you to test negative for Covid prior to re-entry, it’s a good idea to consider what you would do and where you would go in the unlikely event you unexpectedly test positive.

Please note that The Local cannot advise on specific cases. For more information about how the rules may apply to you, see the Italian Health Ministry’s website or consult the Italian embassy in your country.

You can keep up with the latest updates via our homepage or Italian travel news section.

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