Italy to review covid quarantine rules amid Omicron surge

Italian pharmacies under intense pressure to meet demand for covid tests over Christmas.

Italy's seven-day quarantine for fully vaccinated people who come into contact with a covid-positive person could be reduced, the nation's coronavirus emergency commissioner Francesco Figliuolo said in Turin on Monday.

The government's technical scientific committee (CTS) is scheduled to meet on Wednesday to discuss the possiblity of reducing the quarantine period for those who have been triple-vaccinated, reports news agency ANSA.

A decision is expected in early January, ANSA reports, with Italian media speculating that the new quarantine time for fully-vaccinated people could be reduced to between three and five days.

The current quarantine time for the non-vaccinated is 10 days.

"Black Friday"

Figliuolo faced a backlash on social media for his response to the chaos over people seeking covid tests during the Christmas period, leading to colossal queues outside pharmacies and drive-in testing centres.

Calling for "patience", the general said: "Very often citizens queue for Black Friday and to go and get designer clothes."

This led to him being accused of a lack of empathy for Italians stuck in queues for hours, often at dawn, many of whom undertook the covid test solely to spend time safely with their families over Christmas.

Booster four months after last dose

General Figliuolo also confirmed on Monday that the minimum waiting time between the second dose of the covid vaccine and the 'booster' shot will be reduced to four months, with effect from 10 January.

Figliuolo said that this would give the vaccination drive a "further push" as authorities "race to try to curb the Omicron variant."

Covid vaccinations at night

The Lazio region around Rome is to begin administering covid vaccines at night from 30 December, to meet the new booster target, the regional health councillor Alessio D'Amato announced on Monday.

"There are still over 300,000 citizens in Lazio without even one dose of the vaccine" - said D'Amato - "And this is fertile ground for the spread of the Omicron variant."

Rise of Omicron

Talks to shorten the existing quarantine period come amid a rise in new covid-19 infections driven by the highly transmissible Omicron variant which - according to deputy health minister Pierpaolo Silieri - now accounts for more than 50-60 per cent of covid cases in Italy.

Sileri predicted on Monday that Italy could soon see 100,000 daily covid cases, adding that a review of the quarantine measures is required but "probably within 10 to 15 days from now."

He stressed that scientists need "more conclusive data" on Omicron first and that any reduction of the quarantine "must be based on precise scientific data."


For official information about the covid-19 situation in Italy see the health ministry website. Cover image: ANSA