SHARE
COPY LINK

HEALTH

Six more Italian regions move to the ‘white zone’ as coronavirus numbers remain low

Another six of Italy's regions and autonomous provinces are allowed to drop most remaining health measures from Monday, after the latest data showed infection rates remain low nationwide.

Six more Italian regions move to the 'white zone' as coronavirus numbers remain low
Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP

The regions of Emilia Romagna, Lombardy, Lazio, Piedmont and Puglia, and the autonomous province of Trento, have had their risk level downgraded to ‘white’ zone status as of Monday June 14th.

The health minister signed an ordinance confirming the changes on Friday evening.

Regions given the lowest-risk ‘white’ classifcation can drop most of the restrictions which remain in place in yellow zones, including the nighttime curfew.

EXPLAINED: What are the rules in Italy’s coronavirus ‘white zones’?

“The vaccination campaign is progressing fast, and the incidence rate is at a level that allows the containment of new cases. More regions will move into the white zone”, announced Health Minister Roberto Speranza on Friday, after the latest weekly coronavirus monitoring report from the health ministry and the Higher Health Institute (ISS) confirmed Italy’s coronavirus numbers remained low agan this week.

The report, based on data from June 4-10, said Italy’s 7-day incidence rate had fallen again to 25 cases per 100,000 inhabitants.

The national average Rt reproduction number, which shows the rate of new infectons, remained at 0.68.

The latest review of the regional system means a total of 12 of Italy’s 21 regions and autonomous provinces will be white zones from Monday, after Abruzzo, Liguria, Umbria and Veneto were downgraded last week.

To be placed in the the low-restriction white zone, regions must have registered fewer than 50 coronavirus cases per 100,000 inhabitants for three weeks consecutively.

The classification means regional authorities are allowed to drop most of the remaining coronavirus restrictions 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. House parties and large gatherngs are also forbidden.

For now, nightclubs and discos are still waiting for a firm date for reopening, and it is not known if or when Italy may relax the rules on wearing masks outdoors.

Italy’s evening curfew – which is not applicable in white zones – now starts from midnight as of June 7th, and will be scrapped completely on June 21st.

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

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

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.

SHOW COMMENTS