Trieste became the centre of protests following the introduction of stringent work rules last month. Anti-Green Pass protesters – both vaccine sceptics and dock workers – marched through the city and staged sit-ins. Now the city has seen a spike in positive cases.
Trieste, in the north-east of Italy, is a major port. The dock workers who protested said the Green Pass infringed their rights. An Anti-vax lobby joined them as they tried to prevent the port from operating normally.
“The situation in Trieste is particularly worrisome,” said Dr. Fabio Barbone. He is the epidemiologist leading the effort in the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region, of which Trieste is the capital.
Massimiliano Fedriga, the region’s president, was more blunt, “It is the moment to say with clarity: Enough idiocy.”
Cases rising across Italy and Europe
Italy is not the only country experiencing a rise in cases. lone. In Germany, a spike in cases and hospitalisations has led the health minister, Jens Spahn, to warn of “a pandemic mainly among the unvaccinated and it is massive.”
The World Health Organisation’s director for Europe, Dr. Hans Kluge, was not as specific regarding the unvaccinated. “Europe is back at the epicentre of the pandemic — where we were one year ago,” he said. He attributed the spike in cases largely to inadequate levels of vaccination in places like Russia, plus the easing of public health precautions such as mask wearing, particularly in Britain.
Last week, Europe accounted for nearly 60% of the world’s new coronavirus infections. On Thursday, the WHO warned of the possibility of half a million deaths in the next three months.
Not everyone in Trieste is anti-Green Pass
Last Sunday, Mitja Gialuz, a university law professor and leading figure in Trieste, began a petition. She asked all residents who believe in science and the vaccine to sign the document. It now has nearly 50,000 signatures.
The president of the Trieste business association ConfCommercio also spoke up. “Enough now,” said Antonio Paoletti. “We cannot allow a minority of a minority to block business activities and people’s livelihoods for weeks.”
Is Trieste’s position at the heart of Europe a contributing factor?
Trieste borders Slovenia and, as already mentioned, a major port. The vice president of the region, Riccardo Riccardi, while attributing the biggest outbreak to the protests, agreed the infection rate had a lot to do with its place in the heart of Central Europe.
“We live in an area,” he said, “where at our borders there is a circulation of the virus that is extremely high.”
Yet for other elements of the authorities, the reason for the spike was clear. Valerio Valenti, Trieste’s top law enforcement official, told reporters the current outbreak “strictly correlated” to the protests.
Positive cases have climbed within the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region whilst the number of swab tests have remained constant. Covid patients now take up 18% of the intensive care beds.
“The biggest cluster,” said Dr. Barbone, emerged in 93 people who, without masks, gathered at the Trieste rallies. “All of these people,” he added, “are not vaccinated.”