Covid-19: Four more Italian regions turn ‘white’ on Monday as numbers drop again

More of Italy's regions are allowed to drop most Covid-19 restrictions from Monday, with the rest of the country expected to follow later this month.

Covid-19: Four more Italian regions turn 'white' on Monday as numbers drop again
Tourists have returned to Venice as the surrounding region becomes a low-risk 'white' zone. Photo: Miguel Medina/AFP

The regions of Abruzzo, Liguria, Umbria and Veneto are downgraded to ‘white’ zone status from Monday June 7th, meaning most coronavirus restrictions can be relaxed.

Under ‘white zone’ rules, regions can drop most of the restrictions currently in place in yellow zones including the evening curfew and the restrictions on opening hours for businesses, including restaurants.

The health ministry confirmed the changes on Friday, after the latest weekly coronavirus monitoring report from the health ministry and the Higher Health Institute (ISS) confirmed Italy’s coronavirus numbers had continued to fall for another week.

Seven regions are now in the white zone, after Friuli-Venezia-Giulia, Molise and Sardinia were downgraded last week.

Italy’s evening curfew – which is not applicable in white zones – has also been moved from 11pm to midnight on Monday and will be scrapped completely on June 21st.

Cafes, bars and restaurants are now open again everywhere in Italy. Photo by Miguel Medina/AFP

The regions moving into white zones will be able to drop the last remaining restrictions, and reopen trade fairs, theme parks, conferences and indoor swimming pools and hold weddings earlier than planned under the national roadmap for reopening.

So far, only mask-wearing and social distancing rules must remain in place in white zones, the health minister has said.

For now, nightclubs and discos are still suspended and it is not known if or when Italy may relax the rules on wearing masks outdoors.

And the final set of rules in each region depends on the local authority, as each is free to impose stricter restrictions than those set by the national government.

EXPLAINED: How has Italy changed the way it decides regional Covid-19 rules?

The regions moving into the low-restriction white zone have registered fewer than 50 coronavirus cases per 100,000 inhabitants for three weeks consecutively – the threshold for determining white zone eligibility.

All indicators in the nation’s latest weekly coronavirus monitoring report showed another decrease in the coronavirus numbers.

The national average Rt reproduction number had dropped to 0.68 from 0.72, it said.

“If the trend continues like this, by the second week of June all of Italy will be in the white zone,” said ISS head Silvio Brusaferro at a press conference on Friday.

He said there had been an “immediate” fall in the contagion curve and the number of cases after the vaccine rollout gathered pace recently.

Italy has been administering around half a million doses per day in recent weeks, and reported a new national record of 600,000 shots in one day on Saturday.

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Italian monkeypox cases rise to ten

Monkeypox infections have now been confirmed in four Italian regions, Italian health authorities said on Thursday.

Italian monkeypox cases rise to ten

The total number of Italian monkeypox cases rose to ten on Thursday with the discovery of the first case in the Emilia-Romagna region.

There have now been five cases detected the Lazio region, which are being treated in Rome, plus three in Lombardy, and one each in Tuscany and Emilia-Romagna.

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

“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 after the seventh case was reported on Wednesday.

Researchers at Rome’s Spallanzani hospital for infectious diseases 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.

On Thursday morning the Italian health ministry published guidance on dealing with outbreaks of monkeypox as case numbers continued to rise across Europe.

More than 250 monkeypox cases have now been reported in at least 16 countries where the virus isn’t endemic, 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).