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‘Green pass’: Italy ready to launch travel health certificate ‘in a few days’

Italy’s Covid-19 emergency commissioner said on Wednesday that the country’s coronavirus health pass will be ready within days, after the European Parliament approved plans for travel within the bloc.

‘Green pass’: Italy ready to launch travel health certificate 'in a few days’
Italy has used paper certificates as a domestc version of the 'green pass' so far. Photo: Miguel Medina/AFP

“On the green pass, we are ready. It’s a matter of a few days,”.Emergency Commissioner General Francesco Figliuolo told reporters on Wednesday.

In Italy the certificate, also known as a Covid health pass or Covid immunity pass, is expected to be a requirement for travel and attending events this summer.

According to the government’s reopening timetable, the document will be required for those attending events such as wedding receptions and christenings from June 15th onwards.

It is also expected to be a requirement when attending concerts and going to nightclubs in Italy.

The pass will be available to anyone who has either been vaccinated, has tested negative for coronavirus within the past 48 hours, or has recently contracted and recovered from Covid-19.

The certificate, an be used for intra-EU travel from July 1st and should spare travellers the need for quarantine or further testing for travellers.

READ ALSO: Can I use a foreign vaccination certificate to access Italy’s health passport?

Tourism is already restarting in Italy in June. Photo: Miguel Medina/AFP

The European Commission wants as many EU countries as possible to start issuing the passes earlier than July.

But it relies on countries launching their own digital Covid passes that can be recognised across the EU. The EU will not produce its own app or one standard document. 

READ ALSO: How to prove you have recovered from Covid-19 in Italy

As of Wednesday, nine EU countries were already issuing their version of the certificates – not including Italy.

Italian Tourism Minister Massimo Garavaglia has stated that he would like to see the passes introduced earlier – as they are already being used by the competing tourist destinations of Greece, Spain and Croatia.

READ ALSO: How will the EU’s Covid passports work for travellers?

A spokesman for the EU Commission told The Local: “Every member state will need to develop their national implementation for the EU Digital Covid Certificate. National wallet apps could be developed, but are not the only option. Integration in existing tracing or other apps, commercial solutions, digital storage of PDFs and of course paper certificates are also possible.”

The EU Digital Covid Certificate can be presented either in digital format, on a smartphone for example, or printed out on paper.

It features a QR code for verification, which border officials and venue staff can use to check against digital signatures stored securely in Luxembourg servers.

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POLITICS

Italy’s deputy health minister under fire for questioning Covid vaccines

Opposition leaders called for health undersecretary Marcello Gemmato to resign on Tuesday after the official said he was not "for or against" vaccines.

Italy's deputy health minister under fire for questioning Covid vaccines

Gemmato, a trained pharmacist and member of Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s far-right Brothers of Italy party, made the remark during an appearance on the political talkshow ReStart on Rai 2 on Monday evening.

READ ALSO: Covid vaccines halved Italy’s death toll, study finds

In a widely-shared clip, the official criticises the previous government’s approach to the Covid pandemic, claiming that for a large part of the crisis Italy had the highest death rate and third highest ‘lethality’ rate (the proportion of Covid patients who died of the disease).

When journalist Aldo Cazzullo interjects to ask whether the toll would have been higher without vaccines, Gemmato responds: “that’s what you say,” and claimed: “We do not have the reverse burden of proof.”

The undersecretary goes on to say that he won’t “fall into the trap of taking a side for or against vaccines”.

After Gemmato’s comments, the president of Italy’s National Federation of Medical Guilds, Filippo Anelli, stressed that official figures showed the Italian vaccination campaign had already prevented some 150,000 deaths, slashing the country’s potential death toll by almost half.

Vaccines also prevented eight million cases of Covid-19, over 500,000 hospitalisations, and more than 55,000 admissions to intensive care, according to a report from Italy’s national health institute (ISS) in April 2021.

Gemmato’s comments provoked calls for him to step down, including from the head of the centre-left Democratic Party, Enrico Letta.

“A health undersecretary who doesn’t take his distance from no-vaxxers is certainly in the wrong job” wrote the leader of the centrist party Action, Carlo Calenda, on Twitter.

Infectious disease expert Matteo Bassetti of Genoa’s San Martino clinic also expressed shock.

“How is it possible to say that there is no scientific proof that vaccines have helped save the lives of millions of people? You just have to read the scientific literature,” Bassetti tweeted. 

In response to the backlash, Gemmato on Tuesday put out a statement saying he believes “vaccines are precious weapons against Covid” and claiming that his words were taken out of context and misused against him.

The Brothers of Italy party was harshly critical of the previous government’s approach to handling the Covid crisis, accusing the former government of using the pandemic as an excuse to “limit freedom” through its use of the ‘green pass’, a proof of vaccination required to access public spaces. 

But since coming into power, Meloni appears to have significantly softened her stance.

Her appointee for health minister, Orazio Schillaci, is a medical doctor who formed part of the team advising the Draghi administration on its handling of the pandemic.

Schillaci, a former dean of the Faculty of Medicine and Surgery at Rome’s Tor Vergata University, has described the former government’s green pass scheme as an “indispensable tool for guaranteeing safety in university classrooms”.

Speaking at a session of the G20 on Tuesday, Meloni referenced the role of vaccines in bringing an end to the Covid pandemic.

“Thanks to the extraordinary work of health personnel, vaccines, prevention, and the accountability of citizens, life has gradually returned to normal,’ the prime minister said in a speech.

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