For members


Coronavirus: Where is the Delta variant spreading in Italy?

As the Italian government confirmed on Friday that the country is seeing more outbreaks caused by the Delta variant of coronavirus, we look at where the clusters being detected around the country.

Coronavirus: Where is the Delta variant spreading in Italy?

Until now, the risk posed by Delta in Italy has largely been dismissed by Italian authorities, who were describing its presence as “rare” in the country as recently as last week

However, this week authorities are re-evaulating their strategy for mitigating the risks posed by the more infectious new strain after Italy’s independent health watchdog, the GIMBE Foundation, criticised the government for its response.

The health ministry on Friday instructed regional health authorities to carry out more tracing and sequencing of variants after the Higher Health Institute (ISS) revised its figures, now estimating that the number of infections caused by the Delta and Kappa variants in Italy have increased by 16.8 percent in June, up from 4.2 percent in May.

READ ALSO:Italian health experts warn about Delta variant as vaccine progress slows

“From our epidemiological surveillance, a rapidly evolving picture emerges that confirms that also in our country, as in the rest of Europe, the Delta variant of the virus is becoming prevalent,” said Anna Teresa Palamara, director of ISS’s infectious diseases department.

According to the latest ISS data, the SARS-CoV-2 variant prevalent in Italy was found to be the Alpha variant (B.1.1.7), responsible for 74.9 of cases. This is now also the most prevalent globally.

Cases associated with Kappa and Delta variants (B.1.617.1/2) “are few overall in January to June”, the report added. But it stated that the frequency and spread of these reports has rapidly increased across the country.

The new ISS figure however is still lower than GIMBE’s estimate on Thursday that Delta now accounts for as much as 32 percent of cases.

Coronavirus: How much is the Delta variant spreading in Italy?

So how prevalent is the strain really and where is it being detected?

Several regions have already reported cases of the Delta variant, though the amount of test result sequencing and analysis carried out by local health authorities in Italy varies and is often low.

Each region volunteers to do genetic sequencing of positive swabs, which means that Italy has less data available about the spread of variants than countries where sequencing is more widespread and systematic, such as the UK or Denmark.

Following the latest health monitoring report on Friday, more local health authorities have said they will now start taking steps to identify the new strain in order to better understand the development of the outbreak.

For now, here are the regions providing Delta-strain data this week, and the data available on cases confirmed so far.

Emilia Romagna – Lombardy

25 positive cases have been found between Piacenza in Emilia Romagna and Cremona in Lombardy, detected in a logistics hub involving employees and their family and friends.

“We have contacted about 800 people to undergo a swab as part of the contact tracing of the coronavirus for the Delta variant outbreak in the Piacenza area, but almost 300 of them have yet to show up for the test,” Marco Delledonne, head of Piacenza’s public health department, told TV chat show ‘Mattino 5′, reported news agency Ansa.

Covid-19: When do you still need to wear a mask in Italy?

“Now we are also activating the local police to track them down because they are not being found,” he added.

The director general of Piacenza’s health authority, Luca Baldino said tests “would be compulsory but people are escaping,” according to the news report. He added that the infected were “all unvaccinated”, both the workers and their friends and relatives.

Lombardy’s councillor for welfare, Letizia Moratti, stated the Delta variant counts for a total of 3.25 percent of all cases, reported news website Adnkronos.

From the data collected so far in June on the new virus strains in Lombardy, the Alpha variant, first identified in England, is dominant with 64 percent of the total number of variants, followed by the Indian (Delta 3.25 percent, Kappa 0.8 percent), the Brazilian (1 percent) and the South African (2 percent).


83 cases of Delta variant have been recorded in the areas of ‘Napoli 3 Sud’, a grouping of 56 municipalities, which include Sorrento and Pompeii, reported Ansa.

None of the cases has required hospitalisation so far. Of the 83 cases, 44 have been identified in an outbreak in Torre del Greco in Naples, the municipality with the highest number of inhabitants in the whole local health authority.

“We are working to try to identify ‘patient 1’. The same goes for the case of the cluster detected in a gymnasium in Agerola, where about 10 cases have been recorded. We are also working to trace all the close contacts of the positive subjects,” said the health director of Campania’s health authority, Gaetano D’Onofrio.

“We must make a clear distinction between cases and relapses in hospitals. It is true that recently there have been more infections in relation to the so-called Delta variant, but it is also true that this has not affected the health structures,” he added.


Friuli-Venezia Giulia

The Alpha variant is the dominant strain in this region followed by the Delta variant and then the Brazilian variant, according to the vice-governor of the region’s health authorities, Riccardo Riccardi, reported Ansa.

In a sample of 96 cases detected in the region, the presence of the Alpha variant was found in 50 cases, spread across Gorizia, Trieste, Pordenone and Udine.

As for the Delta variant, there were 28 cases in the sample across Trieste, Pordenone and Gorizia.


At least five Delta variant cases have been identified in the Teramo and Chieti areas of this region, reported Abruzzo Live.

The new cases emerged from the analysis of 3,378 molecular swabs with just over 1 percent of the samples testing positive.

Three cases were reported by the Teramo Local Health Authority, one reported in the Chieti area and one in Vasto.


15 people were found to be infected with the Delta strain in the north of the island, following the discovery of 22 confirmed cases of Covid-19 among crew members involved in the filming of the Disney movie, ‘The Little Mermaid’, reported newspaper Il Messaggero.

The presence of the variant was detected by genome sequencing carried out by a hospital laboratory in Sassari, which is now also working on sequencing the Brazilian variant.

Member comments

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


Living in Italy: Five tips to help you survive the local pharmacy

From ear piercings to flu jabs, Italian ‘farmacie’ are among the most useful stores in the country, but they’re also very odd places. Here are our tips on getting through the pharmacy experience.

Living in Italy: Five tips to help you survive the local pharmacy

Italian pharmacies aren’t just stores selling prescription or over-the-counter medicines.

As a customer, you’ll find all sorts of natural remedies, basic health supplies and personal care items on their shelves. 

You’ll also be able to receive basic medical services (for instance, blood pressure checks, Covid tests and flu jabs) and some non-health-related ones (like getting your ears pierced!) in most branches. 

READ ALSO: Reader question: Can I still get the flu vaccine in Italy? 

But, while being extremely useful stores, Italian farmacie (pronunciation available here) are also peculiar places and their set of unwritten rules and solidified traditions may well throw off newcomers.. 

So here are five tips that might help you complete your first expeditions to your local pharmacy without making a fool of yourself.

1 – Decipher your doctor’s scribbles before your trip

Much like some of their foreign colleagues, Italian GPs have a penchant for writing prescriptions that no one else is actually able to read. 

We might never find out why doctors seem so intent on making ancient hieroglyphs fashionable again, but their calligraphic efforts will surely get in the way of you trying to buy whatever medicine you need to survive. 

To avoid hiccups, make sure you know exactly what you need to get. If in doubt, reach out to your GP to confirm.

Don’t rely on pharmacists being able to figure out your doctor’s handwriting because they often have no clue either.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: How to make a doctor’s appointment in Italy 

Pharmacy in Codogno, near Milan

In most small towns and rural areas local pharmacies have very ‘thin’ opening hours. Photo by Miguel MEDINA / AFP

2 – Double-check the pharmacy’s opening times

If you’re from the UK or the US, you might be used to pharmacies being open from 8am to 10pm on weekdays and having slightly reduced opening times over the weekend. 

You can forget about that in Italy. In big cities, most pharmacies will shut no later than 8pm on weekdays and will be closed on either Saturdays or Sundays.

READ ALSO: Coughs, colds and flu: What to say and do if you fall sick in Italy 

As for small towns or villages, opening times will have a nice Middle Ages vibe to them, with local stores remaining shut on weekends and keeping their doors open from 9am to 12.30pm and then from 3.30pm to 7.30pm on weekdays. 

So always check your local pharmacy’s hours before leaving home and, should their times not be available online, call them up. An awkward phone conversation with the pharmacist is still preferable to a wasted trip.

3 – Get the ‘numerino

Some Italian pharmacies have a ticket-dispensing machine with the aim of regulating the queue – a concept which is still foreign to many across the country.

All customers are expected to get a numbered paper ticket (the famed ‘numerino’) from the above machine and wait for their number to be called to walk up to the pharmacist’s desk. 

Now, the law of the land categorically prohibits customers from getting within a five-metre radius of the desk without a numerino

Also, trying to break that rule may result in a number of disdainful sideways glances from local customers.

4 – You cannot escape the in-store conversations, so embrace them 

Pharmacies aren’t just stores. They’re a cornerstone of Italian life and locals do a good deal of socialising on the premises. 

After all, the waiting times are often a bit dispiriting, so how can you blame them for killing the time?

Small pharmacy in Italy

Pharmacies are an essential part of Italian life and culture. Photo by Marco SABADIN / AFP

You might think that locals won’t want to talk to you because you’re a foreigner or don’t know the language too well, but you’ll marvel at how chatty some are.

While chit-chat might not be your cup of tea, talking with locals might help you improve your Italian, so it’s worth a shot.

5 – “Vuoi scaricarlo?”

The pharmacist finally gets you what you need and you’re now thinking that your mission is over. Well, not yet.

Before charging you for the items in question, the pharmacist will ask you whether you’d like to ‘scaricarli’ (literally, ‘offload them’) or not, which, no matter how good your Italian is, will not make any sense to you.

What the pharmacist is actually asking you is whether you want to link the purchase to your codice fiscale (tax code). 

READ ALSO: Codice fiscale: How to get your Italian tax code (and why you need one)   

That’s because Italy offers residents a 19-percent discount on some health-related expenses, which can be claimed through one’s annual income declaration (dichiarazione dei redditi) by attaching the receipts of all the eligible payments.

Whether you want to scaricare or not, this is the last obstacle before you can make your way back home.