Home / FAQ - Covid-19, questions and answers

FAQ - Covid-19, questions and answers


Last check date: 9 September 2020

Containment measures in Italy (Show answers)

The Ministerial Decree DPCM of September 7, 2020 extends to October 7, 2020, all the minimum precautionary measures adopted to  counteract and contain the spread of COVID-19, adopted through the decree DPCM of August 7, 2020 and through the ordinances of the Italian Minister of Health of August 12, 2020 and August 16, 2020.

The ordinance of the Minister of Health issued on August 12, 2020 envisages mandatory swab tests starting from August 13, for all travellers who have stayed or transited in Malta, Croatia, Spain and Greece, in the 14 days preceding their arrival in Italy.

In addition, it provides for a ban on entry into Italy for citizens who in the previous 14 days have stayed or transited in Colombia.

By effect of the ordinance of August 16, 2020, dancing activities which take place in discos and any other space open to the public are suspended, both outdoors and indoors,. It should be noted that the Ordinance does not regulate events of a private nature that are intended for specific individuals and chosen based on personal bonds, friendship, or kinship. As far as these events are concerned, as indiscriminate access by the public is not allowed, the restrictions laid down in the above-mentioned Ordinance do not apply. Therefore, marriages, confirmations and communions, for which there is no indiscriminate access by the public, are excluded from the scope of application of the above mentioned Ordinance, without prejudice, of course, to the provisions of the Decree of the President of the Council of Ministers of  August 7 2020, relating to the ban of assembly and hygiene measures provided for therein.

The Ordinance also provides, as a containment measure against the spread of the new coronavirus, the obligation from 18.00 to 06.00 on the entire national territory to use respiratory tract protection also outdoors, in all areas belonging to places and premises open to the public as well as in public spaces (squares, lay-byes, streets, promenades) whose physical characteristics may facilitate the formation of gatherings, of both spontaneous and/or occasional nature.

Learn more 

General recommendations

  • People with a respiratory infection characterized by fever (over 37.5° C) should stay at home and contact their doctor.
  • Persons subject to quarantine by order of the health authority are prohibited from moving from their home or residence
  • Gatherings of people in public places or places open to the public is still forbidden. It is still mandatory to respect the recommended social distance of at least 1 metre between one person and another.
  • Thorough hand, personal and environmental hygiene is recommended.
  • It is mandatory to wear a mask.
    • Masks must be used in the community setting in closed places that can be accessed by public, including public transport, and all the time when it is not possible to guarantee social distancing. Starting August 17, it is also mandatory  to wear a face mask even outdoors, from 6pm to 6am,  in all areas where there is a risk of gatherings and assembly.
  • The use of masks is not required in:
    • children less than 6 years of age;
    • disabled people that cannot wear a mask for a long period and their caregivers.
  • Dancing activities taking place in discotheques shall be suspended, either outdoors or indoors, including in dance halls and similar premises intended for entertainment, as well as on beach fronts, bathing facilities, equipped beaches, free public beaches, communal areas in accommodation facilities, or in any other places that are open to the public.

For more detailed information, please refer to the annexes to the Ministerial Decree.

It is also advised that all citizens respect simple preventive recommendations.

If you have flu symptoms or think you might be at risk of infection, stay at home, do not go to the emergency room or the doctor's surgery but call your family doctor, paediatrician or the ‘guardia medica’ (out-of-hours primary care service). Alternatively, call the regional information hotline. 

Find out more:

The Ministry of Health has set up dedicated website: www.salute.gov.it/nuovocoronavirus 

The Regions have activated local helpsline to handle the many requests for information and advice.

Find out more on Ministry's website:

You can find specific information for schools, universities and art and music colleges in the dedicated page of the Ministry of University and Research and the Ministry of Education. 

Updates on the evolution of the outbreak are released daily by the Civil Protection and published in the dedicated pages Situation in Italy  and Situation in the world of the Ministry's website.

Go to the Civil Protection website

If you are planning to travel abroad, you will find useful information on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ travel advice website Viaggiare sicuri.

More information is available on the Epicentro website of the National Institute of Health (ISS).

Immuni is an app that helps us fight epidemics—starting with COVID-19:

  • the app aims to notify users at risk of carrying the virus as early as possible—even when they are asymptomatic
  • these users can then self-isolate to avoid infecting others. This minimises the spread of the virus, while speeding up a return to normal life for most people
  • by being alerted early, these users can also contact their general practitioner promptly and lower the risk of serious consequences.

All the relevant information about the functioning of the system is available on the:

Support is available from a toll-free number, 800 91 24 91, from 8am to 20pm.

Quarantine and isolation are important public health measures implemented to avoid further secondary cases due to SARS-CoV-2 transmission, and to avoid overloading the hospital system.

  • Quarantine is carried out on a healthy person (close contact), who has been exposed to a COVID-19 case, with the aim of monitoring symptoms and ensuring early identification of cases. For COVID-19, the quarantine period is 14 days after the date of the last exposure (maximum incubation period of the disease if the person contacted has developed the infection).
  • Isolation consists of separating COVID-19 patients and healthy people as much as possible, in order to prevent the spread of infection during the period of transmissibility (until the symptoms are resolved and two negative tests for SARS-CoV-2 have been taken, at least 24 hours apart).
  • Active surveillance is a measure during which the public health professional contacts the person under surveillance on a daily basis, to find out about their health condition.

Yes. By Order of 19 March 2020, you can now get the ‘Electronic Prescription Number’ from your doctor without having to pick up a paper prescription. This is a further measure to reduce the movement of people and stop the spread of the novel coronavirus infection.

Your doctor may:

  • send you the prescription by certified e-mail (PEC) or ordinary e-mail;
  • give you the Electronic Prescription Number by telephone, text message or mobile messaging app

After receiving the Electronic Prescription Number and the tax identification number on your health card, the pharmacist will supply you with the medication.

The Presidency of the Council of Ministers and the Ministry of Health publish all updates regarding the new Coronavirus on the website: www.salute.gov.it/nuovocoronavirus

The Office for Policies in Favour of Citizens with Disabilities publishes specific updates relating to regulations applying to citizens with disabilities on the following website:

New Coronavirus: Frequently Asked Questions for Citizens with Disabilities

In addition to answers to the most frequently asked questions about the measures taken by the Government for people with disabilities and their families, the website also contains the Ministry of Health's vademecum in an accessible format.

The announcements of the Civil Protection Department are available, also in LIS (Italian Sign Language) version, on the YouTube Department channel.

Extracts of the announcements are available, in writing, on the Department website.  

For the management of Phase 2, a specific monitoring system on epidemiological data and response capacity of regional health services has been activated, introduced with the decree of the Ministry of Health of April 30, 2020. The monitoring is developed by a “control booth” consisting of the Ministry of Health, the Higher Institute of Health and the Regions.

In Italy, specific surveillance for this virus is also active at national level since the beginning of the epidemic.

The situation is constantly monitored by the Ministry, which is in permanent contact with the WHO, the ECDC, the European Commission and promptly publishes any new updates on the portal www.salute.gov.it/nuovocoronavirus.

In view of the WHO's declaration of an "International Public Health Emergency", the Council of Ministers declared a state of emergency on  January 31, 2020, because of the health risk associated with Coronavirus infection.

"Contact" is to be understood as "close contact" with a probable or confirmed case, as defined by the Circular of the Ministry of Health of March 9, 2020, namely:

  • a person living in the same house as a COVID-19 case
  • a person who has had direct physical contact with a COVID-19 case (e.g. handshake)
  • a person who has had unprotected direct contact with the secretions of a case of COVID-19 (e.g. touching used paper tissues with bare hands)
  • a person who has had direct (face-to-face) contact with a case of COVID-19, at less than 2 metres and lasting longer than 15 minutes
  • a person who has been in an enclosed environment (e.g. classroom, meeting room, hospital waiting room) with a case of COVID-19 in the absence of suitable PPE
  • a health care professional or other person providing direct assistance to a COVID19 case or laboratory personnel handling samples of a COVID-19 case, without using the recommended PPE or having used unsuitable PPE
  • a person who has travelled seated on an aircraft in the two adjacent seats, in any direction, of a COVID-19 case, as well as his or her travelling companions or caregivers and crew members sitting in the section of the aircraft where the index case was seated 

Yes, access to a place of worship is permitted, as long as appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) has always been used during the healthcare activity provided.


Travel and movement (Show answers)

As of June 3, the rules are different, depending on the country of origin or destination.

Read the pages:


For further information please refer to:

Travellers must follow strict hygiene measures, wash their hands with soap and water regularly and/or use alcohol-based hand disinfectants. Avoid touching your face with unwashed hands, avoid contact with sick people, especially those with respiratory symptoms and fever.

It should be emphasised that older people and people with chronic basic illnesses must take these precautionary measures very seriously.

Travellers who develop symptoms during or after the trip must self-isolate; those who develop acute respiratory symptoms within 14 days after their return to Italy must immediately contact their doctor by telephone.

The Ministry of Health has the task of tracing all the close contacts of a Covid-19 case present on a means of transport (air, train, ferry), collecting the data and transmitting them to the Regions, to activate the quarantine measure.

Contact tracing-(CT) consists in making a timely and accurate search of all persons (close contacts) who may have been exposed to the COVID-19 case during the period of infection, and who could in turn develop the infection, become contagious and thus fuel the transmission. The CT is a key public health tool to break the transmission chains of Covid-19 cases.

The Ministry will send a report via Early Warning and Response System of the European Union (EWRS). The EWRS is a web-based platform with restricted access, that allows EU countries to report events with a potential impact on the EU at an early stage, share information and coordinate their response.

For non-EU countries, a report is sent via National Focal Point (NFP).

Similarly, EWRS and National Focal Points receive reports of contacts to our country, which are forwarded to the Regions.

From  June 3, 2020, travel between regions is permitted.

Interregional travel can only be limited by measures taken in relation to specific areas of the national territory, in accordance with the principles of adequacy and proportionality to the epidemiological risk present in these areas.

For further information, it is advisable to contact the regional emergency COVID-19 toll free number  for the specific Region of interest, also regarding the possible need, in case of home return, to carry out a quarantine or fiduciary isolation.

The WHO encourages all countries to strengthen preventive measures, active surveillance, early detection of cases, their isolation following appropriate management and containment procedures, and accurate contact tracing to prevent further spread.

Countries are asked to continue to improve their preparedness for health emergencies in line with International Health Regulations (2005) and to share information on cases and on the measures they implement.

On March 11th, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared that the international outbreak of the new coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 infection can be considered a pandemic.

The epidemiological situation is constantly evolving. Every day the WHO publishes the epidemiological update of the disease on the page Coronavirus disease (COVID-2019) situation reports.

Learn more about the New Coronavirus on the following website pages:


About the virus and the disease (Show answers)

Severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) is the name given to the new 2019 coronavirus.

  • COVID-19 is the name given to the disease associated with the virus.
  • SARS-CoV-2 is a new strain of coronavirus that has not previously been identified in humans.

Coronaviruses are viruses that circulate among animals and some of them also infect humans.

Bats are considered natural hosts of these viruses, but many other animal species are also considered as sources. For example, the Middle Eastern respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) is transmitted to humans by camels and the severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus-1 (SARS-CoV-1) is transmitted to humans by civets.

No, viruses that cause both COVID-19 and seasonal influenza are transmitted from person to person and can cause similar symptoms, but the two viruses are vastly different and do not behave in the same way.

ECDC (the European Centre for Disease Control) estimates that between 15,000 and 75,000 people die prematurely each year in the EU, the UK, Norway, Iceland, and Liechtenstein from complications of seasonal influenza. This is about 1 in 1,000 people infected. Although the seasonal flu mortality rate is relatively low, there are many people who die from the flu, because a large number of people contract the disease each year. Unlike influenza, there is no vaccine or specific treatment for COVID-19. Moreover, it seems to be more transmissible than seasonal influenza. Since it is a new virus, no one has developed any previous immunity, which means that the entire human population is potentially susceptible to the SARS-CoV-2 infection.

The Civil Protection website has opened a bank account dedicated to the New Coronavirus emergency.

You will find the relevant information on the page: Coronavirus Emergency: the current account to make your donation is now active

You may also make a donation to the financial support fund dedicated to the families of deceased health care workers because of the Covid-19 emergency. This fund has been set up by the Civil Protection. Donations can be made by bank transfer, both from Italy and abroad.

Read more:

For further information:

Covid-19 Donation page 


Symptoms (Show answers)

The symptoms of COVID-19 may vary, depending on the severity of the disease, from the absence of symptoms (being asymptomatic) to fever, cough, sore throat, weakness, fatigue and muscle pain and in the most severe cases, pneumonia, acute respiratory distress syndrome, sepsis and septic shock, which potentially lead to death.

The most common symptoms of Covid-19 are:

  • Fever ≥ 37,5°C and chills
  • Dry cough
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Loss of taste or smell
  • Nasal congestion
  • Sore throat
  • Diarrhea (mostly in children)

Elderly people over the age of 70, such as high blood pressure, heart problems, diabetes, chronic respiratory diseases, cancer and immunodepressed patients (by congenital or acquired disease, transplanted or under treatment with immunosuppressive drugs) are more likely to develop serious forms of the disease.

Children make up an extremely low proportion of reported COVID-19 cases: about 1% of all reported cases are under 10 years of age and 4% are between 10 and 19 years of age.

Children appear to be as likely to be infected as adults but have a much lower risk than adults of developing symptoms or serious forms of the disease.

The infectious period may start one or two days before symptoms appear, but people are likely to be more infectious during the symptomatic period, even if the symptoms are mild and very non-specific. It is estimated that the infectious period lasts 7-12 days in moderate cases, and on average up to two weeks in severe cases.

How the virus spreads (Show answers)

Yes, some Coronaviruses can be transmitted from person to person, usually after close contact with an infected patient, for example, between family members or in a healthcare centre.

The novel Coronavirus responsible for respiratory disease COVID-19 can also be transmitted from person to person through close contact with a probable or confirmed case.

Current evidence suggests that SARS-CoV-2 spreads among people:

  • directly
  • indirectly (through contaminated objects or surfaces)
  • through close contact with infected people - through secretions in the mouth and nose (saliva, respiratory secretions, or droplet droplets).

When a sick person coughs, sneezes, talks or sings, these secretions are released from their mouth or nose. People who are in close contact (within 1 metre) with an infected person can become infected, if droplets enter their mouth, nose, or eyes.

To avoid contact with these droplets, it is important to stay at least 1 metre away from others, wash your hands frequently and cover your mouth and nose with a handkerchief or bent elbow when sneezing or coughing. When physical distance (standing 1 metre or more away) is not possible, an important measure to protect others is to wear a mask. It is always essential to wash your hands frequently.

Sick people can release infected droplets on objects and surfaces (called fomites) when they sneeze, cough or touch surfaces (tables, handles, handrails). By touching these objects or surfaces, other people can become infected by touching their eyes, nose, or mouth with contaminated (unwashed) hands.

Therefore, it is essential to wash your hands properly and regularly, with soap and water or an alcohol-based product and to clean surfaces frequently.

Some medical procedures can produce exceedingly small droplet (called aerosolized droplet nuclei or aerosols), that are able to remain suspended in the air for a long time.

When such medical procedures are performed on COVID-19 positive people in healthcare facilities, these aerosols may contain SARS-CoV-2. Aerosol droplets may potentially be inhaled by other people if they are not wearing appropriate personal protective equipment. Therefore, it is essential that all healthcare professionals performing these medical procedures take specific respiratory protection measures, including the use of appropriate personal protective equipment. No visitors should be allowed in areas where such medical procedures are performed.

COVID-19 outbreaks have been reported in some indoor environments, such as restaurants, nightclubs, places of worship and workplaces where people can speak in a loud voice, talk, or sing. In these outbreaks, transmission by aerosols cannot be excluded, especially in closed, crowded and poorly ventilated places where infected people spend long periods of time with others.

Further studies are needed to investigate such outbreaks and assess their importance for virus transmission.

A "close contact" (high risk exposure) of a probable or confirmed case is defined as:

  • A person living in the same household as a COVID-19 case;
  • A person having had direct physical contact with a COVID-19 case (e.g. shaking hands);
  • A person having unprotected direct contact with infectious secretions of a COVID-19 case (e.g. touching used paper tissues with a bare hand);
  • A person having had face-to-face contact with a COVID-19 case within 2 metres and > 15 minutes;
  • A person who was in a closed environment (e.g. classroom, meeting room, hospital waiting room, etc.) with a COVID-19 case without suitable PPE
  • A health care professional or other person providing direct assistance to a COVID-19 case or lab personnel handling samples of a COVID-19 case, who did not use the recommended PPE or used unsuitable PPE
  • A contact in an aircraft sitting within two seats (in any direction) of the COVID-19 case, travel companions or persons providing care, and crew members serving in the section of the aircraft where the index case was seated (if severity of symptoms or movement of the case indicate more extensive exposure, passengers seated in the entire section or all passengers on the aircraft may be considered close contacts).

Healthcare professionals, based on individual risk assessments, may believe that some people, regardless of the duration and setting of the contact, have had a high-risk exposure.

According to current knowledge, virus transmission mainly occurs from symptomatic people, but it can also occur shortly before the onset of symptoms, in case of proximity with other people for prolonged periods of time. People who never show symptoms can transmit the virus, even if it is not yet clear to what extent this occurs: further studies are needed.

To help break the transmission chain, it is necessary to limit contact with COVID-19 positive people, wash your hands frequently and thoroughly and wear a mask when at least 1 meter of physical distance cannot be guaranteed.

Under the Ministerial Circulars and Orders, the local health authorities must place any close contacts of a probable or confirmed case under quarantine with active surveillance for 14 days.

Yes, infected people can transmit the virus, both when they show symptoms and when they are asymptomatic. That is why it is important that all sick people are identified through tests, isolated and, depending on the severity of their illness, receive medical treatment. Confirmed but asymptomatic people must also be isolated, to limit contact with others. These measures break the chain of the transmission of the virus.

That is why it is always important to stay at least 1 metre away from others, cover your mouth and nose with a bent elbow or handkerchief when coughing or sneezing, clean your hands regularly and stay at home in case of symptoms, or if requested by your GP or the prevention department. It is also important to wear a mask when physical distancing and other prevention and control measures cannot be applied.

Yes, COVID-19 is a new disease and more information is available every day, but there are still many aspects to be clarified:

  • the different routes of transmission: through droplets of different sizes, physical contact, fomites, and the role of airborne transmission in the absence of aerosol generating procedures;
  • the concentration of virus needed for transmission;
  • the characteristics of people and situations that facilitate the superdiffusion of the virus, such as those observed in some indoor environments;
  • the percentage of infected people who remain asymptomatic during the period of infection;
  • the percentage of truly asymptomatic people who transmit the virus to others;
  • the specific factors determining asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic transmission;
  • and the proportion of all infections transmitted by asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic individuals.

Prevention and treatment (Show answers)

Please stay up to date with the latest information on the spread of the pandemic, available on the WHO website and on the Italian Ministry of Health website and take the following personal protection measures:

  • Avoid close contact with infected people. Make sure there is a physical distance of at least 1 metre from yourself and others. If this distance cannot be guaranteed, wear a mask. Starting August 17, it is mandatory  to wear a face mask even outdoors, from 18.00 to 6.00,  in all areas where there is a risk of gatherings and assembly
  • Identify infected people early, so that they can be isolated and treated, and all their close contacts can be quarantined
  • wash your hands often. It is strongly recommended to make sure that hydroalcoholic solutions for washing hands are available in all public places, gyms, supermarkets, pharmacies and other gathering places
  • avoid crowded places, closed rooms with poor ventilation and close proximity with others
  • ensure good ventilation of indoor spaces, including homes and offices
  • avoid hugs and handshakes;
  • respiratory hygiene (sneeze and/or cough in a disposable paper towel and throw it away immediately or wash it after use, then wash your hands well with soap and water or hydroalcoholic solution and dry them thoroughly. avoiding hand contact with any respiratory secretions);
  • avoid communal use of bottles and glasses, in particular during sports activities;
  • do not touch your eyes, nose and mouth with your hands;
  • do not take antiviral drugs and antibiotics, unless prescribed by your doctor;
  • first, clean surfaces with soap and water or regular mild detergents to remove dirt. Then sanitize all surfaces with sodium hypochlorite or alcohol solutions (bleach). Make sure the solutions are diluted properly
  • during any social contact, it is strongly recommended to use a respiratory tract protection, as an additional measure to other individual health and hygiene protection measures
  • it is strongly recommended that health care professionals use surgical masks at all times, during all routine activities in health care facilities.
  • healthcare workers should also use additional personal protective equipment and precautions for the care of COVID-19 patients, as required by ministerial regulations.

If you have a fever, cough or experience any breathing difficulties and you suspect that you have been in close contact with a person with respiratory disease Covid-19:

  • stay at home, do not go to the emergency room or to a doctor's surgery but call your family doctor, paediatrician or the ‘guardia medica’ (out-of-hours primary care service). Alternatively, call the regional telephone information hotline. Call the emergency number 112/118 only if strictly necessary, if your symptoms get worse, or if you experience serious breathing difficulties.

You can call 1500, the free toll public utility number of the Ministry of Health, or the Italian Red Cross toll-free number 800.065.510, which has been specifically activated to assist the most vulnerable population. The operators also answer for information on the correct behaviour to be respected and the procedure to follow in case of close contact with positive people. Requests include the intervention of doctors for initial telephone assistance and the activation of hospital facilities.

You can also contact the toll-free number for your region: Regional toll-free numbers

The purpose of hand washing is to ensure proper hand cleansing and hygiene through mechanical action.

Common soap is sufficient for hand hygiene. In the absence of water, so-called alcohol-based hand sanitizers can be used.

If soap is used, it is important to rub your hands for at least 60 seconds. If soap is not available, use a hydroalcoholic solution for at least 20-30 seconds.

Commercially available products for hand sanitization in the absence of soap and water (medical and surgical devices and authorised biocides with microbicidal action) should be used when the hands are dry, otherwise they are not effective.

It is important to wash your hands:


  • touching each other's eyes/nose/mouth (e.g. to smoke, use contact lenses, brush teeth, etc.).
  • eating
  • taking medications or administering medications to others

Before and after

  • handling food, especially raw food
  • using toilets,
  • medicating or touching a wound
  • changing a baby's diaper
  • touching a sick person
  • touching an animal


  • attending public places (shops, clinics, stations, gyms, schools, cinemas, bus, office, etc.) and, in general, as soon as you return home
  • handling garbage
  • using money
  • touching other people.

It is also a good practice to cough/sneeze in your elbow crease to avoid contaminating your hands, with which you can subsequently transmit your microorganisms (e.g. by touching your mobile phone, door handle, etc.).

Finally, it is recommended to use disposable tissues to blow your nose, (possibly eco-friendly tissues), and to dispose of them in the waste, washing your hands, immediately after use.

There are currently no vaccines against SARS-CoV-2.

Vaccine development takes time. Several vaccines are at an advanced testing stage and others have been registered. Like all drugs, vaccines must pass the testing stages that test their safety and efficacy before they can be used on humans.

Influenza and the virus that causes COVID-19 are two different viruses and the seasonal flu vaccine does not protect from COVID-19. However, the flu vaccine is strongly recommended because it helps to avoid confusion with COVID-19 if you develop symptoms, enabling earlier isolation of possible coronavirus cases.

Since at present there is no scientific evidence that TB vaccine can provide protection against the new coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2), this vaccine remains indicated for vulnerable categories of the population exposed to these infections.

No, antibiotics do not work against viruses, they only work on bacterial infections.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF, it is essential to maintain the normal vaccination schedule, especially for routine vaccinations. During vaccination appointments, it is recommended to observe the preventive measures for COVID-19.

In this regard, on 30 July 2020, the Ministry of Health issued the circular:


  • Anyone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 infection should stay away from other family members, if possible, in a well-ventilated single room and should not receive visitors.
  • The caregiver should be in good health and should not have any illnesses that put him/her at risk if infected.
  • Family members must stay in other rooms or, if this is not possible, maintain a distance of at least 1 metre from the sick person and sleep in a different bed.
  • Caregivers must wear a surgical mask carefully placed on their face when they are in the same room. If the mask is wet or dirty due to secretions, it should be replaced immediately, and they should thoroughly wash their hands after removing it.
  • Hands should be washed thoroughly with soap and water or a hydroalcoholic solution after every contact with the patient or his/her surroundings, before and after preparing food, before eating, after using the bathroom and whenever they appear dirty.

These are just some of the many recommendations extracted from a document drafted by the Italian Higher Institute of Health . These guidelines are summed up in a 21 points  downloadable poster.

At present, there is no specific treatment for the disease caused by the new coronavirus.

Treatment remains mainly based on a symptomatic approach, providing supportive therapies (e.g. oxygen therapy, fluid management) to infected people, which can nevertheless be highly effective.

Several clinical trials are underway for the treatment of COVID-19 disease. The Italian Medicines Agency (AIFA) provides information on its website about the drugs that are made available to COVID-19 patients.

See the dedicated page on the site: Italian Medicines Agency (AIFA)

After completing the home isolation period, if you developed no symptoms, you may return to work. The days you stayed home are covered by the certificate issued at the beginning of the isolation period. 

Should somebody develop symptoms during the period of fiduciary isolation, the Department of Public Health, which is responsible for the national health surveillance, will carry out a test with the SARS-CoV-2 swab. In the event of a positive outcome, clinical recovery (i.e. complete absence of symptoms) is required, before going back to work. At that point, two consecutive swabs will be performed within 24 hours, to confirm that the patient has completely recovered. If both swabs are negative, the person can go back to work, otherwise the fiduciary isolation period will be resumed.

  • The carer must be in good health, have no diseases that put him/her at risk, wear a surgical mask carefully placed on his/her face when in the same room as the patient
  • Hands should be washed thoroughly with soap and water or a hydroalcoholic solution after every contact with the patient or his/her surroundings, before and after preparing food, before eating, after using the bathroom and whenever hands appear dirty.
  • Crockery, cutlery, towels and sheets must be used exclusively by the sick person. They must be washed often with soap and water at 60/90 °C.
  • Surfaces frequently touched by the sick person must be cleaned and disinfected every day
  • If the sick person gets worse or has breathing difficulties, call 112/118 immediately

Protective devices (Show answers)

As of May 4th 2020, in order to contain the spread of the COVID-19 virus, it is mandatory throughout the country to use respiratory protection in closed spaces that are accessible to the public, including means of transport, and in any case on all occasions when the maintenance of a safe distance cannot be guaranteed. 

Children under six years of age, as well as people with disabilities that are not compatible with the continuous use of a mask, their carers and people interacting with them, are not subject to such obligation.

In some regions, the mandatory use of masks has been extended to other contexts.

With the ministerial decree DPCM of august 7, 2020 the containment measures to counter the spread of the new coronavirus are extended to  September 7. The Prime Minister's Decree confirms the obligation to use masks in closed places that are open to the public, the measures to keep social distance of at least 1 metre between people, as well as the recommendation of washing hands frequently and  properly (Dpcm, art. 1).

By effect of the Ordinance of the Minister of Health issued on August 16, 2020,  starting August 17, further measures are envisaged, with respect to the ministerial decree DPCM of August 7, 2020. The Ordinance provides the obligation to use respiratory tract protection even outdoors, from 18.00 to 06.00, on the entire national territory, in all areas in proximity of locations and premises that are open to the public, as well as in public spaces ( squares, lay-byes, streets, waterfront promenades) whose physical characteristics may facilitate the formation of gatherings of both spontaneous and/or occasional nature.

Within our communities, disposable masks or washable masks may be used, even if they are self-made. The masks should be made of multilayer materials providing an appropriate barrier and guarantee comfort and breathability at the same time. The shape and adherence of a mask should ensure proper coverage, from the chin all the way to above the nose.

The use of community masks is considered an addition to other protective measures aimed at reducing contagion (such as physical distancing and constant and accurate hand hygiene), which remain unchanged and an absolute priority.

It is not useful to wear multiple overlapping surgical masks. A sensible use of surgical masks is important to avoid unnecessary waste of valuable resources.

Watch the video 

Follow these steps:

  • before putting on the mask, wash your hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub
  • cover your mouth and nose with the mask ensuring that it is intact and it fits snugly to your face 
  • avoid touching the mask while using it; if you do, wash your hands 
  • when the mask becomes damp, replace it with a new one 
  • you may reuse the mask only if there are relevant instructions on the packaging, including the number of washes allowed without decreasing the safety of the mask
  • remove the mask by handling the elastic band only, without touching the front of the mask and wash your hands immediately after use

Watch the video 

In case of symptoms, it is necessary to use a mask that is certified as a medical device.
Children must wear a mask from the age of six years and up. It is particularly important to pay attention to the shape of children’s masks, avoiding those that are too large and uncomfortable for their face.

Before you put the mask on:

  • wash your hands with soap and water, for at least 40-60 seconds, or perform hand hygiene with an alcoholic solution, for at least 20-30 seconds 
  • wear the mask by touching only the elastic bands or ties, taking care not to touch the inside of the mask
  • position the mask correctly by making the upper underwire adhere to the nose and placing it under the chin.
  • make sure that you are wearing your mask properly (for example, the coloured part of surgical masks goes on the outside).

When you are using your mask

  • When adjusting your mask, always handle it using elastic its bands or ties.
  • If you touch your mask while wearing it, you must repeat the hygiene of your hands
  • Do not put the mask in your pocket and do not place it on furniture or shelves.

When you remove your mask

  •  Always handle your mask using its elastic bands or ties.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water or perform hand hygiene with an alcoholic solution.

In case of reusable masks

  • wash at 60 degrees with regular laundry detergent, or according to the manufacturer's instructions, if available; sometimes manufacturers also indicate the maximum number of washings possible, without reducing the performance of the mask
  • after handling a used mask, always wash or clean your hands.  

Surgical masks are specifically intended for medical use, developed for use in a healthcare environment and certified according to their filtering capacity.

They respond to the characteristics required by UNI EN ISO 14683-2019 and prevent the transmission of the virus.

Community masks, as described in article 16, paragraph 2, of the Decree-Law DL March 17 2020, have the purpose of reducing the circulation of the virus in daily life and are not subject to any specific certifications.

They should not be considered either medical devices or personal protective equipment, but merely a hygienic measure to reduce the spread of SARS-COV-2 virus.

It is possible to wash community masks, if they are made of materials that resist washing at 60 degrees. Commercial community masks are considered disposable or washable, according to the relevant instructions provided on the packaging. These may also include the number of washes allowed without diminishing their performance

These masks must:

  • ensure an adequate barrier for nose and mouth
  • be made of multilayer materials, which must not be toxic, allergenic, or flammable and which do not make it difficult to breathe
  • adhere to the face, covering from chin to nose while ensuring comfort.

The use of gloves within the community only adds to the other protective measures aimed at reducing contagion, which remain a priority.

However, the use of disposable gloves remains recommended in purchasing activities, particularly for the purchase of food and beverages.

In addition, when using public transport, or in workplaces and construction sites, when it is not possible to keep an interpersonal distance of at least one metre and other organisational solutions are not possible, using masks and other protective equipment (including gloves, goggles, overalls, etc.) that comply with the provisions of the scientific and health authorities is strictly necessary.

The use of gloves, similarly to the use of masks, may help preventing infections only under certain conditions. Otherwise, such protective devices may become a vehicle of infection themselves.

Gloves are ok if:

  • they are not a substitute for proper hand hygiene, which must be carried out through thorough washing, for 60 seconds
  • you change them every time they get dirty, and dispose of them properly, in undifferentiated waste.
  • In the same way as your hands, they do not come into contact with your mouth, nose, and eyes.
  • they are disposed of after use, for example, at the supermarket
  • they are not reused
At the moment, the survival time of coronavirus in waste is unknown. As a precaution, therefore, masks and gloves should be disposed of with undifferentiated waste, taking care to always place them in a sealed bag first, to avoid contact with sanitation workers.

In households where there are family members who have been tested positive, in isolation or compulsory quarantine, separate waste collection must be discontinued.

Any household waste, regardless of its nature (including tissues, toilet/kitchen rolls, disposable sheets, masks and gloves), must be considered as undifferentiated waste and therefore disposed of in the container used for undifferentiated collection (if possible, with foot pedal), taking care to place the waste inside at least two sealed resistant bags (one inside the other) first, to avoid contact with sanitation workers.

On the other hand, in households where there are no positive subjects in isolation or in compulsory quarantine, it is recommended to continue respecting the waste procedures required by the local territory, without interrupting the separate waste collection.

However, as a precautionary measure, any used tissues, masks, and gloves should be disposed of in the undifferentiated waste.

The Istituto Superiore di Sanità (Italian Higher Institute for Health Care) has issued a document concerning the PPE and medical devices recommended for the prevention of SARS-CoV-2 infection in the workplace (health care workers, cleaners, laboratory technicians, patients with/without symptoms, accompanying persons, ambulance workers, etc.) and recipients of the guidelines.

Read the document


Surfaces and hygiene (Show answers )

Currently available scientific evidence shows that the survival time of the virus on surfaces varies depending on the type of surface considered. The recent report of the Higher Institute of Health  concerning the recommendations on the sanitization of non-healthcare facilities in the current COVID-19 emergency (surfaces, indoor environments and clothing) and the May 22, 2020 memo report the detection time of viral particles on the most common surfaces, varying from several hours (e.g. on paper) to several days (e.g. on plastic and stainless steel).

However, it must be considered that the data available so far, being generated by experimental conditions, must be interpreted with caution, also taking into account that the presence of viral RNA does not necessarily indicate that the virus is vital and potentially infectious.

The use of simple disinfectants can kill the virus by eliminating its ability to infect people, e.g. disinfectants containing alcohol (ethanol) or sodium hypochlorite (bleach).

Remember to clean frequently used items (mobile phone, earphones, microphone) first with soap and water or other neutral detergents and then disinfect them with products containing sodium hypochlorite (bleach) or ethanol (alcohol), following the manufacturer's instructions.

Read the ISS report Interim recommendations on sanitizing non-health care facilities during the current COVID-19 emergency: surfaces, indoor spaces, and clothing.

Sanitization: it is a "series of cleaning and/or disinfection procedures and operations", which includes the maintenance of good air quality, changing the air frequently in all environments.

Disinfection: is a treatment to reduce the microbial load of environments, surfaces and materials and must be carried out using disinfectant products (biocides or medical and surgical devices) authorized by the Ministry of Health. These products must be labelled with the registration/authorisation number.

Hygiene: this is the equivalent of cleaning and is intended to make the environment hygienic, i.e. to clean the environment by eliminating the harmful substances present. Products without an authorisation from the Ministry of Health, which are labelled with indications on their activity, e.g. against germs and bacteria, are not products with a proven disinfectant activity but are simply environmental cleaners (sanitisers).

Cleansing: consists in the removal of dirt and microorganisms, with a subsequent reduction of the microbial load. Cleaning is mandatory before disinfection and sterilization because the dirt is rich in microorganisms that actively multiply in it and can reduce the activity of disinfectants.

Cleaning: cleaning is carried out using environmental cleaning/hygienising products - the two terms are equivalent - which remove dirt by mechanical or physical action.

Sterilization: physical or chemical process that leads to the targeted destruction of every living microbial form, both in vegetative and spore form.

Read more 

Yes. The WHO has stated that the likelihood of an infected person contaminating commercial goods is low and the risk of catching the virus from a package that has been exposed to different conditions and temperature is also low. 

There is no evidence that walking surfaces are involved in transmission of the virus. Moreover, spraying hypochlorite could increase the amount of harmful substances in the environment. Street cleaning with conventional soaps/detergents is still advised.

Animals (Show answers)

While available data, in particular genetic sequences, suggest that the SARSCoV-2 virus emerged from an animal source, there is currently not enough scientific evidence to identify precisely either the source or the route of transmission from the original animal reservoir to a putative intermediate host and then to humans. Studies are underway to better understand the susceptibility of different animal species to SARS-CoV-2 and to assess infection dynamics in susceptible animal species.

Source: European Commission 

The environment of patients with COVID-19 is likely to be contaminated with SARS-CoV-2 so pets that live with infected people are exposed to SARS-CoV-2. The risk of exposure to SARS-CoV-2 and infection in COVID-19 for pets living in affected households cannot be excluded. The preliminary assessment of this risk of exposure and subsequent infection in households is considered low for cats, ferrets and hamsters, very low for dogs and negligible for birds and reptiles (Shi et al., 20201 ). There is no current scientific evidence of dogs or cats playing a role in the spread of SARS-CoV-2 towards humans. In addition, despite isolated cases of infection reported in dogs and cats, currently there is no scientific evidence to suggest that animals infected by humans are playing a role in the epidemiology of the current COVID-19 pandemic. Outbreaks of COVID-19 in humans are driven by person-to-person. In previous episodes of SARS outbreaks, pets have not acted as animal reservoir or played a role in transmitting the virus through zoonotic transmission.

Source: European Commission 

There is no evidence that pets play a role in the spread of SARS-CoV-2, as it has been proved that interhuman infection is the main route of transmission.

However, since veterinary surveillance and experimental studies suggest that pets are occasionally susceptible to SARS-CoV-2, it is important to protect pets living with patients with COVID-19 by limiting their exposure. It is recommended to wash hands frequently with soap and water or using alcoholic solutions before and after contact with pet, their litter or food bowl.

First and foremost there is no justification for any measures to be taken which may in any way compromise the welfare of the animals in your care. Despite there is no current scientific evidence of dogs or cats or any other pet species playing a role in the spread of SARS-CoV-2 and that animals infected by humans are not playing a role in the epidemiology of COVID19, a precautionary attitude and behaviour is recommended whenever possible. There are certain protective steps that can be taken:

  • As a precaution, people infected with SARS-CoV-2 virus or suspected of being infected should avoid as much as possible close contact with their pet animals and should maintain good hygiene practices (e.g. isolating from pets, washing hands frequently, avoiding close face contact, wearing a facemask).
  • Under the same precautionary approach, animals belonging to owners suspected of being infected with SARS-CoV-2 should minimise their contact with people or other animals and be kept confined indoors in their households or designated animal isolation places or shelters as much as practical, not jeopardising under any circumstances their welfare and for a duration equal to the lockdown recommendations for humans applicable in the same geographical area.
  • Pet owners should keep their pets on a leash when walking outside so as to be able to keep the “social distance” with other people.

Source: European Commission 

As for human food, there has been no report of transmission of SARS-CoV2 virus to animals via consumption of pet food. The European Food Safety Authority concluded that “there is no evidence that food is a likely source or route of transmission of the virus” .

Indeed, as for food for human consumption, there is no scientific evidence and it appears very unlikely that you can become infected from handling pet food. The recommendations regarding the handling of pet food packages are the same as for the handling of any other package. This assessment is also valid for feed for farmed animals.

Due to the presence of some contagious animal diseases in China, only a few live animals and unprocessed animal products from China are authorised for import into the European Union.

There is no evidence that any of the animals or animal products authorised for entry into the European Union pose a risk to the health of EU citizens as a result of the presence of SARS-CoV-2 in China.

As with the imports of animals and animal products, due to the animal health situation in China, only a few products of animal origin are authorised for import into the EU from China, on the condition that they meet strict health requirements and have been subjected to controls.

For the same reasons, travellers entering the EU customs territory are not allowed to carry any meat, meat products, milk or dairy products in their luggage.

When returning from walks, to protect our pet friend, it is advisable to take care of their hygiene, taking special care to wipe their paws, avoiding aggressive and alcohol - based products that could cause any irritations or itching, and preferring to use products without added fragrance (e.g. water and mild soap).

As far as their fur coat is concerned, it is advisable to br ush them and then wipe them with a damp cloth. 

Veterinary assistance is one of the essential services provided for in the recent legislation. Please contact your vet, who will tell you what steps you need to take to take your pet to a clinic.

It is recommended not to change your pet’s the diet. However, you could slightly decrease its daily intake, considering that during this period outdoor activity is reduced


Pregnancy (Show answers)

There are no scientific reports on the susceptibility of pregnant women to the virus. Pregnancy involves changes in the immune system which may increase the risk of viral respiratory infections, including SARS-CoV-2. Pregnant women might also be at higher risk of developing a severe form of viral respiratory infections.

The advice for pregnant women is to take normal preventive actions to reduce the risk of infection, such as washing hands often and avoiding contact with people who are sick.

There are no scientific reports about the effects of COVID-19 during pregnancy. In cases of infection during pregnancy with other related coronaviruses [SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV], cases of miscarriage have been observed, while high fevers during the first trimester of pregnancy may increase the risk of birth defects.

From the limited data in the literature, no cases of transmission of infection by other coronaviruses (MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV) from mother to child have been reported. Recent data on children born to mothers with COVID-19 indicate that none of the infants tested positive. Additionally, SARS-CoV-2 was not detected in the amniotic fluid.

In relation to the current limited knowledge and results of the only study carried out in China, where the presence of SARS - CoV - 2 has not been demonstrated in umbilical cord blood, amniotic fluid and breast milk, there is no elective indication for caesarean sectioning in women with COVID - 19, therefore the current indications for caesarean sectioning remain valid.

Furthermore, considering that caesarean section is an independent risk factor for matern al mortality, it is appropriate to carefully assess this mode of delivery in pregnant women with COVID - 19.

Whenever possible, the preferred option is the joint management of mother and newborn to facilitate the interaction and initiation of breastfeeding.

Should the mother be asymptomatic and feel able to manage her newborn independently, mother and newborn can be managed together. In this case, rooming - in for mother and infant is applicable, applying normal precautions for airborne respiratory diseases. If the mother has a frankly symptomatic respiratory infection (fever, cough and respiratory secretions, myalgia, sore throat, asthenia, dyspnoea ), mother and newborn are temporarily separated.

The decision whether or not to separate mother and newborn should be taken for each individual couple, taking into account the information and consent of parents, the logistical situation of the hospital and possibly also the local epidemiological situation regarding the spread of SARS - CoV - 2.

If the mother is asymptomatic, she can breastfeed, taking all possible precautions to avoid transmitting the virus to her baby, washing her hands and wearing a surgical mask while breastfeeding.

If breast milk squeezed with manual or electric breast pump is used, the mother should wash her hands and follow the recommendations for proper cle aning of the instruments after each use. If possible, consider using donated human milk.

If the mother has a frankly symptomatic respiratory infection (fever, cough and respiratory secretions, myalgia, sore throat, asthenia, dyspnoea), mother and newborn s hould be transiently separated. In this case, the automatic use of breastmilk substitutes should be avoided, by implementing the pumping of breastmilk or the use of donated human milk. In cases of severe maternal infection, breastmilk pumping may not be ca rried out, according to the general condition of the mother. The compatibility of breastfeeding with drugs that may be administered to the woman with COVID - 19 should be assessed on a case - by - case basis. The use of positive SARS - CoV - 2 mother's pumped breas t milk for the newborn in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit follows specifics protocols.


Children (Show answers)

Currently, there is no evidence that children are more susceptible to new coronavirus infection. According to a recent study carried out in China, the majority of the confirmed cases of COVID-19 occurred in adults.

However, as with other respiratory diseases, some populations of children may be at greater risk of serious infection, such as children with underlying medical conditions.

Therefore, children too should follow the recommended prevention measures. In particular they should wash their hands frequently with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub and avoid contact with sick people.


Directorate-General for Preventive Healthcare


  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Stampa
  • Invia email
Information Line 1500
Regional telephone information hotlines