Four out of Italy’s 20 regions could lose their lowest-risk ‘white’ zone classification and move back into a low-moderate risk ‘yellow’ zone, according to Italian media predictions based on the latest health figures.
Although not yet confirmed by Italian authorities, Sicily, Campania, Marche and Abruzzo are the regions thought at risk of moving back into the yellow zone.
This means they could face restrictions again after several weeks in the ‘white’ zone, where almost all measures have been dropped.
Italy’s overall infection rate rose slightly last week, the latest monitoring report from Italy’s Higher Health Institute (ISS) showed, reversing a downward trend that had lasted 15 consecutive weeks.
Italy’s health minister Roberto Speranza told journalists on Monday that an increase in cases had been expected, saying: “As is known, we monitor all the data weekly, we expected a rise, this rise is underway but with lower numbers than in the past.”
On the question of whether some regions will face new restrictions, he said, “As we have always done, we will rely on our team of technical experts who continue to do this verification work, we will see step by step how things are going.”
The ISS report on Friday showed that these four regions recorded the most dramatic increase in incidence rates.
The incidence rate of cases per 100,000 inhabitants for Italy as a whole increased from 9 to 11, with significant differences between the regions.
Sicily reported 18.2, Marche 15.9, Campania 15.7 and Abruzzo 15.5.
The Marche region in particular showed a sharp increase compared to the previous week’s figure of 6.9.
With a worsening and changing health situation, the parameters that determine the classification of regions into zones could change, reports Italian news agency Ansa.
Regions only qualify for the low-risk ‘white’ zone status if they have fewer than 50 cases per 100,000 inhabitants.
If this is exceeded, a region automatically becomes a ‘yellow’ zone in order to reduce pressure on Italy’s health system.
The yellow band is the second-lowest in Italy’s four-tier system of health restrictions. Precautionary measures in place under this tier include the requirement to wear masks at all times in public, which is eased outdoors in white zones.
The health ministry’s zone classification is based on two main factors: incidence rate (the number of new cases per 100,000 inhabitants over the past week) and occupancy of hospital beds.
However, deputy health minister Pierpaolo Sileri told Radio 24 in an interview: “At the moment I do not see, with the current numbers, the need for a return to the yellow zone for some regions. To date there is no such risk, but let’s see what happens in the coming weeks.”
“We have low numbers and I do not see the return of restrictions at the moment ,” he added.
Andrea Costa, a health ministry official, echoed Sileri’s comments: “Today we have to look not so much at contagions, but at hospital admissions. The hope and wish is that Italy remains white, but we need to evaluate the data on a daily and weekly basis.”
“To date, the data does not suggest a change of colour,” Costa told RaiNews 24.
Among all regions, the greatest daily increase in cases are reported in Lazio (172), followed by Sicily (150), Emilia Romagna (118), Lombardy (95), Veneto (76), Campania (69), Tuscany (66) and Sardinia (51).
In the other regions the increase was of less than 20 cases.
This variant, together with the Kappa strain, accounts for nearly 28 percent of new infections in Italy compared to 5 percent in May, according to the ISS.
The Alpha variant is still dominant in Italy, but is decreasing according to officials, now accounting for almost 58 percent of total coronavirus cases – a drop of 30 percent.
New cases are mainly among those who are unvaccinated or have only had their first dose, the ISS stated.
For further details on the current coronavirus situation in Italy, see the Health Ministry’s website (in English).