COVID epidemic in phase of expansion says Speranza

Health minister calls for unity in facing emergency

(ANSA) - ROME, JAN 13 - Health Minister Roberto Speranza said Wednesday that COVID-19 contagion is on the rise again in Italy as he reported to parliament with the government set to pass a decree extending and amending the restrictions imposed to prevent contagion.
    "This week there has been a general deterioration in the epidemiological situation in Italy," Speranza told the Lower House.
    "The (number of COVID patients) in intensive care, the Rt (reproduction) index and the number of unidentified outbreaks have increased, "Let's not kid ourselves. The epidemic is in a phase of expansion again".
    The minister said the government was set to extend the COVID-19 state of emergency until April 30.
    He said the new decree would maintain a ban of travel between regions, except for work or health reasons and other situations of absolute need, that was imposed before the Christmas holidays.
    He also confirmed that the new package would ban bars from doing takeaway services after 6pm although they will still be able to do home deliveries after this time.
    The aim is to stop contagion stemming from people getting together in the areas of bars.
    He said that a fourth category will be added to Italy's tiered system of restrictions based on a region's contagion risk.
    This will be the low-contagion risk white zone, where activities currently halted, such as workouts at gyms and use of swimming pools, will be allowed.
    A region will need to have an Rt rate below 1 and have an incidence of fewer than 50 cases per 100,000 inhabitants to be classed as a white zone.
    Under the tiered system, in high-risk red zones all restaurants and bars are closed, except for takeaways and home deliveries, and all non-essential shops are closed too.
    No Italian region is red at the moment.
    In medium-high risk orange zones, shops can do business but restaurants and bars must stay closed.
    In moderate risk yellow zones, shops are open and so are bars and restaurants until 6pm A nationwide curfew from 10pm until 5am is set to stay in force.
    Speranza also called for unity in facing the emergency, saying the COVID vaccination campaign should be kept out of "political rows". (ANSA).
   

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