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Charity seeks inquiry of Italy’s handling of Covid-19 ‘for those who died unnecessarily’

Italy should urgently launch a public inquiry into its handling of the Covid-19 pandemic, the human rights group Amnesty International rights group said Friday, as lawmakers in Rome dithered over the issue.

Medical workers attend a mass on outside the Tor Vergata hospital in Rome on December 21, 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic caused by the novel coronavirus.
Medical workers attend a mass on outside the Tor Vergata hospital in Rome on December 21, 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic caused by the novel coronavirus. Filippo MONTEFORTE / AFP

One of the first countries to be hit by the pandemic, Italy has registered over 131,000 deaths since the first domestic cases were spotted in the north in February 2020.

“It is vital that the Italian parliament approves an independent inquiry so that lessons can be learned, similar mistakes can be prevented and justice can be provided to those people who died unnecessarily and those who were wrongly dismissed,” said Debora Del Pistoia, researcher at Amnesty International Italy.

READ ALSO: Italy’s WHO whistle-blower: ‘I don’t want this swept under the carpet’

Her remarks came as Amnesty released a report claiming  staff in Italian hospitals and care homes who raised concerns about their working conditions during the pandemic were silenced or punished.

Medical workers in protective gear react at the end of their shift in an intensive care unit treating COVID-19 patients at the San Filippo Neri hospital in Rome on April 20, 2020.

Medical workers in protective gear react at the end of their shift in an intensive care unit treating COVID-19 patients at the San Filippo Neri hospital in Rome on April 20, 2020. Alberto PIZZOLI / AFP

Italy’s Covid response has been under scrutiny on several other fronts.

Prosecutors in Bergamo, an early epicentre of the pandemic, have questioned top government officials over claims that the province was not properly quarantined at the start of the outbreak.

Meanwhile, the families of more than 500 victims of coronavirus have sued former premier Giuseppe Conte, current Health Minister Roberto Speranza and Lombardy regional chief Attilio Fontana seeking 100 million euros in damages.

READ ALSO: ‘Here is the Italy that has suffered’: Bergamo holds requiem for coronavirus dead

There are also concerns about possible waste and corruption, with a former coronavirus crisis commissioner, Domenico Arcuri, under investigation for embezzlement and abuse of office related to the purchase of face masks from China.

A nurse carries Covid-19 vaccination shots at the Amedeo di Savoia Hospital, in Turin, Northwestern Italy, on December 27, 2020.

A nurse carries Covid-19 vaccination shots at the Amedeo di Savoia Hospital, in Turin, Northwestern Italy, on December 27, 2020. Marco Bertorello / AFP

Several parties, including the opposition far-right Brothers of Italy and the centrist Italy Alive (IV), which is part of Mario Draghi’s national unity government, have called for parliament to investigate the pandemic.

But IV lawmaker Lisa Noja told AFP a consensus has emerged among other political forces to limit an inquiry to the pandemic’s alleged origins in China, excluding Italy’s response to it.

READ ALSO: ‘We want truth and justice’: Families of Italy’s coronavirus victims file complaint

In July, two parliamentary committees agreed to restrict the investigation to events leading up to January 30, 2020, when the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared the coronavirus outbreak a global emergency, Noja said.

The full house of the lower chamber still needs to vote on the proposal. A debate was scheduled for this week, but  postponed, and it is unclear when the matter will be taken up again.

“I don’t think they (the other parties) think it’s in anyone’s interest to discuss this in the house,” Noja said.

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COVID-19

Reader Question: What are Italy’s Covid quarantine rules for travellers?

Italy's quarantine rules have changed so many times over the past couple of years, it can be hard to keep track. Here's the latest information on when and how visitors need to self-isolate.

Reader Question: What are Italy's Covid quarantine rules for travellers?

Question: “One of your recent articles says you can exit quarantine by testing negative for the coronavirus. But you can also exit quarantine by obtaining a Letter of Recovery from Covid-19… true?”

Unfortunately, official proof of having recovered from Covid-19 won’t get you out of the requirement to self-isolate if you test positive for Covid while visiting Italy – though it can shorten your quarantine period.

Anyone who tests positive in Italy is required to immediately self-isolate for a minimum of seven days: that’s if the person in question is fully vaccinated and boosted, or has completed their primary vaccination cycle or recovered from Covid less than 120 days ago.

That period is extended to 10 days for those who aren’t fully vaccinated and boosted, or those who recovered from Covid or completed their primary vaccination cycle more than 120 days ago.

READ ALSO: Travel in Italy and Covid rules this summer: what to expect

In either case, the infected person must have been symptomless for at least three days in order to exit quarantine (with the exception of symptoms relating to a lost sense of taste or smell, which can persist for some time after the infection is over).

The patient must also test negative for the virus via either a molecular (PCR) or rapid antigen test on the final day of the quarantine in order to be allowed out.

Quarantined people who keep testing positive for the virus can be kept in self-isolation for a maximum of 21 days, at which point they will be automatically released.

Italy does not currently require visitors from any country to test negative in order to enter its borders, as long as they are fully boosted or were recently vaccinated/ have recently recovered from Covid.

READ ALSO: How tourists and visitors can get a coronavirus test in Italy

Some countries (including the US), however, do require people travelling from Italy to test negative before their departure – which means visitors at the tail end of their journey could be hit with the unpleasant surprise of finding out they need to quarantine for another week in Italy instead of heading home as planned.

It’s because of this rule that a number of The Local’s readers told us they wouldn’t be coming on holiday to Italy this summer, and intend to postpone for another year.

If you are planning on visiting Italy from a country that requires you to test negative for Covid prior to re-entry, it’s a good idea to consider what you would do and where you would go in the unlikely event you unexpectedly test positive.

Please note that The Local cannot advise on specific cases. For more information about how the rules may apply to you, see the Italian Health Ministry’s website or consult the Italian embassy in your country.

You can keep up with the latest updates via our homepage or Italian travel news section.

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