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Lazio region calls for covid-19 tests for arrivals at Rome airport

Coronavirus testing for Rome's Bangladeshi community.

People arriving in Rome from countries outside the EU should be tested for covid-19 at Fiumicino airport and authorities should ensure quarantine measures for new arrivals, said Lazio regional health councillor Alessio D'Amato.

"Every day we find ourselves with new import cases, people who carry the coronavirus from countries where it is still in widespread circulation," D'Amato told Rome daily newspaper Il Messaggero - "The border control system does not work, is it possible that the government does not understand this?"

The solution offered by D'Amato involves renting "a few hotels near Fiumicino airport" in which those arriving into Italy from non-EU countries can go into quarantine.

D'Amato says he is "worried" about ineffective border controls, with "around 40 import cases" recorded in Lazio in recent days, and particular concerns in relation to those returning from Bangladesh, reports RAI News.

The Lazio region hosts around 37,000 of the 140,000 Bangladeshis in Italy, according to national statistics institute ISTAT. Around 32,000 of them live in Rome, according to Reuters news agency.

With the support of migrant associations, the Bangladesh community in Lazio is being asked to undergo voluntary "blanket testing" from 6 July, says D'Amato, who highlighted that numerous positive cases were discovered among passengers on a recent flight to Rome from Dhaka via Dubai, reports RAI News.

Speaking to Il Messaggero, D'Amato set the scene for those returning to Rome from Bangladesh: "They had left Italy frightened by the epidemic, now in their country the situation is dramatic because the coronavirus is out of control and, since they often have work and residence here, they do all they can to return to Italy."

"Do we really think, on their arrival, that they will go into quarantine in a studio apartment by themselves? No, they will probably go to apartments with other compatriots who are at risk of getting infected, they will try to resume work immediately because they need it."

"But the same goes for those arriving from Brazil, the United States, Mexico, Pakistan. And it also applies to Italians who return from countries with that level of virus circulation," D'Amato told Il Messaggero.

Italian newspaper Il Fatto Quotidiano interviewed travellers arriving into Fiumicino on 4 July, including those who travelled from outside the EU.

"Quarantine? I know nothing about it. And I won't do it," said Adriana who had just arrived from Lisbon. In reality, however, Portugal was just the stopover on a journey from Sao Paulo in Brazil. "I'm here on vacation" - she told Il Fatto Quotidiano - "I have no intention of spending 15 days in the hotel."

On the same flight was Franco, an Italian man in his 50s, accompanied by his Brazilian wife. Franco also did not intend going into quarantine. "If I have symptoms I will notify my doctor" - he told Il Fatto Quotidiano, adding: "There is too much alarmism in our country."

Over the weekend the president of the Lazio region, Nicola Zingaretti, made a fresh appeal for "everyone to respect the rules" - including wearing masks and social distancing - "otherwise we risk going backwards and burning all the sacrifices we have made in recent months."

On 1 July the EU reopened its external borders to a list of up to 15 "low risk" countries however Italy opted out and decided to retain its quarantine regulations for all nations that are not part of the free-travel Schengen area.

For daily updates on coronavirus information in the Lazio region see Regione Lazio website or the Salute Lazio Facebook page.

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Address 00054 Fiumicino, Metropolitan City of Rome, Italy

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Lazio region calls for covid-19 tests for arrivals at Rome airport

00054 Fiumicino, Metropolitan City of Rome, Italy

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