“The curve in Italy has remained contained thanks to vaccinations,” stated Silvio Brusaferro, president of Italy’s Higher Health Institute (ISS), at a press conference announcing the latest official data on Friday afternoon.
Health Ministry Director of Prevention Gianni Rezza described the latest findings as “comforting” and said the health situation across Italy was “quite positive”.
The head of Italy’s evidence-based medicine foundation Gimbe agreed that the data showed the fourth wave of contagion in the country had been contained.
“The gradual increase in vaccination coverage and individuals’ adherence to correct behaviour has made it possible to contain the fourth wave, and the new cases and hospitalizations have finally begun to decline”, wrote Dr Nino Cartabellotta in Gimbe’s latest monitoring report published on Thursday.
However, Cartabellotta warned that the downward trend may not last, adding: “with autumn upon us and the reopening of schools for 9.4 million people, in addition to the under 12s who have not yet received even one dose of the vaccine, there is a risk of a resumption of the circulation of the virus and an increase in hospitalizations, with consequent limitations in assistance to non-Covid-19 patients “
The latest official data shows that the country’s Rt number fell to 0.85 in the fourteen days between August 25th and September 7th, from 0.92 the preceding week.
Rt, the effective reproduction number, is the average number of people that one infected person will pass on a virus to – so an Rt of below one means that an infection rate is decreasing.
The health ministry’s report also said that the average number of new cases across Italy was down to 54 per 100,000 inhabitants in the week of September 10th-16th, compared to 64 the previous week.
The data from the past week also showed that the numbers of new Covid patient admissions to both intensive care and hospital wards had also continued to decline overall.
Despite having the highest incidence of Covid in the country, Sicily’s case rate has actually decreased from 148.7 per 100,000 inhabitants last week and 190.4 per 100,000 between August 27th and September 2nd.
The three areas of the country with the highest infection rates are Sicily, Calabria and the autonomous province of Bolzano, with Sicily showing an incidence of 109.1 new cases per 100,000 inhabitants, Bolzano 90.5, and Calabria 84.8.
Calabria risks joining Sicily in the ‘yellow’ zone, the second of Italy’s four-tier Covid risk zones, according to Italian media reports.
Yellow zone restrictions require that masks are worn in all public spaces, including outdoors, and that restaurants may only seat a maximum of four people per table unless the group is cohabiting.
There is no evening curfew, and travel in and out of yellow zones is not restricted.
Currently all of Italy’s regions besides Sicily are classed as low-risk ‘white zones’, with the lowest level of restrictions.
Bolzano, the autonomous province of Trento, and the regions of Abruzzo and Molise are now classified as moderate-risk zones, while Italy’s 17 remaining regions and autonomous provinces remain low-risk, the health ministry report states.