Italy enters ‘red zone’ amid Covid-19 spike

Italy has entered a nationwide ‘red zone’ of very high risks in the wake of a second wave of the coronavirus pandemic, which is set to remain in place through Christmas and New Year’s Day to January 6, 2021.

Red zone rules include a ban on travel between regions, a 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew, closure of shops, bars and restaurants, as well as an urge for keeping holiday gatherings at home to a minimum of two adult visitors, reports Xinhua news agency.

To contain the second wave, the government has categorized Italy as three colour-coded areas, namely yellow, orange and red, with different levels of restrictions corresponding to the severity of virus transmission.

Areas with uncontrolled transmission that stretches the national health system beyond capacity are defined red, with the toughest anti-virus limits in place, said the Ministry of Health.

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte on December 18 announced the designation of the entire country as a red zone over the holidays to stem the virus spread.

Infections as of Friday morning stood at 2,009,317 in this country with a population of about 60 million, the Ministry said, adding that 505 patients succumbed on Thursday, pushing the overall fatalities up to 70,900.

“Overall, the incidence (of infections) in Italy remains very high and the impact of the epidemic continues to be significant in most of the country,” the Ministry said on Thursday in a coronavirus monitoring report covering the week of December 14-20.

“As well, in most of the regions there is a moderate to high risk of an uncontrolled, unmanageable epidemic.

“This situation confirms the need to maintain a strict approach to the mitigation measures adopted during the Christmas holiday period,” it added.

On Wednesday, Extraordinary Commissioner for the Coronavirus Emergency Domenico Arcuri confirmed that Italy’s vaccination drive is set to begin on Sunday with the arrival of an initial 9,750 doses of the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine.

“Pfizer has assured us that starting on Dec. 28, it will supply us with another 470,000 doses, which will arrive in the 300 vaccination posts throughout Italy,” Arcuri said.

The first batch to receive a vaccine will be “the 1.8 million Italians who are the most exposed to the risk of contagion due to the fact that they are in the front lines of this war, where so many have lost their lives: doctors, nurses, healthcare and hospital staff, and nursing home residents and staff”, said the Commissioner.