Italy’s rising infection rate, fuelled by the Delta variant, could see some regions reintroduce measures in the coming weeks. Four of Italy’s 20 regions could move from ‘white zone’ back into a low-moderate risk ‘yellow zone’.
The regions concerned are Sicily, Campania and neighbours Marche and Abruzzo. Italian authorities have not yet confirmed the move.
This means restrictions may be imposed again after several weeks in the ‘white zone’.
Why the move to yellow zone?
Italy’s overall infection rate rose slightly last week according to date Italy’s Higher Health Institute (ISS). This was a reversal of 15 consecutive weeks of downward trend.
Italy’s health minister Roberto Speranza told journalists on Monday “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 these four regions had 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. In Sicily the incidence rate was 18.2, Marche 15.9, Campania 15.7 and Abruzzo 15.5.
With a worsening and changing health situation, the parameters that determine the classification of regions into zones could change, reports Italian news agency Ansa.
What is the yellow zone?
The yellow zone is the second-lowest in Italy’s four-tier system of health restrictions. Under this tier, people need to wear masks at all times in public. This is not a requirement in the white zone.
If cases exceed more than 50 per 100,000 inhabitants, regions move from the white to yellow zone.
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.
How likely is the move to yellow?
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.
The Alpha variant is still dominant in Italy (58%), but the more infectious Delta and Kappa strains are gaining ground. They now account for nearly 28% of new infections according to ISS.
New cases are predominantly among those who are unvaccinated or have only had their first dose, the ISS stated.