Italian regions risk new covid restrictions amid rise in cases

Delta variant fuels rise in cases in Italy. 

Several regions in Italy could lose their lowest-risk 'white' zone status and slip back to the moderate risk 'yellow' zone category from 26 July, based on rising numbers of covid-19 cases, according to Italian media reports.

The regions at risk of 'yellow' restrictions were identified by Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera as Campania (Naples), Lazio (Rome), Sardinia, Sicily and Veneto (Venice).

Under the current system, to be classified as a white zone a region must have registered fewer than 50 covid-19 cases per 100,000 inhabitants for three consecutive weeks.

If this figure is exceeded the region passes from the white zone, where minimal restrictions apply, to a yellow zone, with stricter rules in place.

However the government is expected to shift the parameters for classifying white zones - even if the data is higher than 50 cases per 100,000 people - by switching the focus to the number of patients in hospital.

Significant increase

On Friday the weekly monitoring report from Italy's Higher Health Institute (ISS) and the health ministry revealed that the national 'R' reproduction number and covid incidence rate had both risen significantly.

The 'R' value was up to 0.91 from 0.66 last week, while the incidence was up to 19 cases per 1,000 inhabitants, from 11 last week, reports Italian news agency ANSA.

Franco Locatelli, head of the Higher Health Council (CSS), told Italian newspaper La Repubblica on Sunday that gatherings for the Euro 2020 football championship, which Italy won, have favoured the spread of the virus.

Average age

The latest data from national health authorities shows that the average age of those infected is 28, a record low, Reuters reports.

The rise in cases in Italy is being fuelled by the highly contagious Delta variant which is "primarily hitting young people," according to Gianni Rezza, director general at the ministry of health.

However ISS president Silvio Brusaferro said that, for the moment, "the impact of the illness on hospital admissions remains minimal."

The number of patients in hospital in Italy with covid-19, not including those in intensive care, was 1,136 on Sunday, up from 1,111 the day before, according to health ministry data reported by Reuters.

One in two vaccinated

On Friday Italy reached the milestone of 60 million vaccine shots administered, ANSA reports, with just over 50 per cent of all Italians aged over 12 now fully vaccinated.

For official information relating to the covid-19 situation in Italy - in English - see the health ministry website. Cover image: Florence. Photo credit: gph-foto.de / Shutterstock.com.