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FAQ - Covid-19, questions and answers

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COVID-19: measures in Italy have changed. We are updating information

Last check date: 29 April 2021


Containment measures in Italy (Show answers)

 

On  April 26, 2021, Decree-law n. 52 of  April 22, 2021 came into force, introducing urgent measures for the gradual resumption of economic and social activities, in compliance with the need to contain the spread of the COVID-19 epidemic. The text outlines the timetable for the gradual elimination of the necessary restrictions to limit contagion from the SARS-CoV-2 virus, in the light of scientific data on the epidemic and the progress of the vaccination campaign.

Green certifications

The decree-law also provides for the introduction, throughout the country, of the so-called 'Covid-19 green certifications', proving that vaccination against SARS-CoV-2 has been carried out, or that the patient has recovered from the infection, or has undergone a rapid molecular or antigenic test with a negative result.

Classification of Regions and Autonomous Provinces

Regions and Autonomous Provinces are classified into four areas, according to the data and indications of the Control Room/Cabina di Regia (DM April 30, 2020). Each area corresponds to different epidemiological risk scenarios and levels, according to the document "Prevention and response to COVID-19; evolution of the strategy and planning in the transition phase for the autumn-winter period", and the restrictions of the last decree - Dpcm:

  • the most restrictive measures are concentrated in the red area, referring to the Regions and Autonomous Provinces with a scenario of maximum severity and a high level of risk 
  • in the orange area, including the Regions and Autonomous Provinces with a high severity scenario and a high-risk level, there are slightly less restrictive measures
  • in the yellow area there are general restrictive measures 
  • in the white area there are no restrictions 

The classification of the Regions into areas is established by Ordinance of the Minister of Health, after consulting the Presidents of the Regions concerned.

Movements

Among the new features of the Decree-Law of April 22, as of  April 26 travel between different regions in the white and yellow areas is permitted. In addition, people with a "green certification" are also allowed to travel between Regions and Autonomous Provinces in the orange or red areas.

From  April 26 to June 15, 2021, in the yellow area, four people are allowed to move to a single inhabited private home once a day, from 5am to 10pm, in addition to those already living in the home of destination. Persons moving may bring with them minors over whom they exercise parental responsibility and disabled or dependent persons living with them.

The same movements, with the same hourly limits and number of persons, is allowed in the orange area, within the same municipality. Travel to other private dwellings in the red area is not permitted.

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See details of restrictions and reopening on the Government website

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General recommendations

  • People showing symptoms, even mild ones, such as fever, sore throat, cough, rhinorrhoea/nasal congestion, difficulty in breathing, muscular pains, anosmia/ageusia/dysgeusia, diarrhoea, asthenia, should stay at home and immediately contact their general practitioner or paediatrician
  • Total ban on mobility from home and social contacts for persons under quarantine
  • Gatherings of people in public places or places open to the public is forbidden
  • Frequent hand washing (with soap and water or an alcoholic solution), proper respiratory hygiene (coughing and sneezing directly into a tissue or into the crook of the elbow) is recommended
  • It is mandatory to respect the recommended safety distance of at least 1 metre between one person and another
  • It is mandatory to always wear a mask, throughout the national territory
  • The use of a mask is mandatory: 
    • in indoor places other than private homes
    • in all outdoor places, except in cases where, due to the characteristics of the place or the circumstances, a distance between non- cohabiting people is guaranteed
  • Masks are not mandatory in the following cases:

    • people taking part in sporting activities

    • children under six years of age

    • people with pathologies or disabilities that are incompatible with the use of a mask, and those who have the same incompatibility when interacting with them

  • The use of a face mask is also strongly recommended in private homes, if there are non-residents visiting

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.

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.

The Ministry of Health, in collaboration with the Italian National Institute of Health, the Coordination of Regions and Autonomous provinces and others, prepared the document Prevention and response to Covid-19: strategy development and planning in the transition phase for the autumn-winter period, which outlines phases, scenarios and related interventions.

The document is addressed to public health authorities involved in the response to the SARS-CoV-2 outbreak in our country.

"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.

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Travel and movement (Show answers)

Travelling to and from abroad 

Travelling rules vary, depending on the country of origin or destination and the reasons for travelling.

With the Ordinance 29 Aprile, 2021 the Minister of Health updated the cross-border measures with reference to entries from India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka and extended the existing measures for entries from List C, List D and List E countries until 15 May 2021.

India, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka

It is forbidden to enter Italy for people coming from or who have stayed in the previous fourteen days in India, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka, with the exception of Italian citizens who have been registered in Italy since before  April 29, 2021 and who do not show COVID-19 symptoms, and of the subjects referred to in Article 51, paragraph 7, letter n) of the Ministerial Decree of  March 2, 2021.

The above categories may be authorized entry exclusively in compliance with a specific protocol. 

The Ordinance of  April 2, 2021 provided for some reclassifications on the lists of countries in Annex 20 of the Dpcm of  March 2, 2021.

To learn about the information for travelling to and from abroad, please visit the:

For further information please refer to:

Info

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.

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:

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Vaccination against Covid-19 (Show answers)

The goal of the vaccination campaign on the population is to prevent deaths from COVID-19 and to achieve herd immunity for SARS-CoV2 as soon as possible. In Italy, the campaign started on  December 27 in a demonstrative form, followed by Europe with the Vaccine Day and then effectively on  December 31, 2020, after the approval by the EMA (European Medicines Agency) of the first anti COVID-19 vaccine. After an initial phase, which will be limited in terms of the number of doses delivered, the campaign will develop consistently, according to the Strategic Plan approved by the Italian Parliament on  December 2, 2020. The vaccines will be offered free of charge to the entire population, according to an order of priority, taking into account the risk of disease, the types of vaccine and their availability.

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Under the agreements signed, Italy can count on the availability of more than 224 million doses.

The first vaccine to be authorised in the European Union was Pfizer-BioNtech's Comirnaty: on 21 December 2020 by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and on 22 December by the Italian Medicines Agency (AIFA).

The Moderna vaccine was also authorised by the EMA on 6 January and by AIFA on 7 January.

The AstraZeneca vaccine was also authorised by the EMA on 29 January and by the AIFA on 30 January.

Since December 31, 2020, a dashboard to collect data and statistics on the administration of the vaccine throughout the country has been activated.

View dashboard

  • Health and social care workers. Accredited public and private 'frontline' health and social care workers have a higher risk of being exposed to COVID-19 infection and transmitting it to susceptible and vulnerable patients in health and social care settings. Furthermore, it is recognised that vaccination of frontline health and social care workers will help to maintain the resilience of health services. 
  • Residents and staff of residential nursing homes for the elderly. A high proportion of residential nursing homes (RSAs) have been severely affected by COVID-19. Residents of such facilities are at high risk of serious illness, due to their age, the presence of multiple comorbidities and the need for assistance with feeding and other daily activities. 
  • Older people. An age-based vaccination programme is generally easier to implement and results in higher vaccination coverage. There is also evidence that an age-based programme also increases coverage in people with clinical risk factors, as the prevalence of comorbidities and disabilities increases with age. Therefore, given the high likelihood of developing a serious disease and the consequent need for intensive or sub-intensive care, this population group is a priority for vaccination. 

After vaccinating health and social care workers, staff, and residents of residential facilities for the elderly, the vaccination campaign will continue with the population over 80 years of age. Next, extremely vulnerable people, i.e., those with diseases or disabilities that present a particularly high risk of developing severe or fatal forms of COVID-19, will be vaccinated. They will be followed by people aged 70-79 and people with at least one chronic comorbidity.

With the arrival of new vaccines and the increase in the number of doses currently available, people aged between 18 and 55 will also be vaccinated, starting with teachers and school staff, the armed forces and the police forces, prison staff and inmates, community places and other essential services.

The categories of people and the order of priority for the vaccination campaign have been updated by the document Interim recommendations on target groups for the anti-SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19 vaccination.

Three new variants are of most concern to WHO and ECDC experts:

  • The so-called English variant (VOC variant 202012/01, also known as B.1.1.7) first identified in the UK.
    This variant has been shown to have a higher transmissibility than previously circulating variants (37% higher transmissibility than non-variant strains, with a large statistical uncertainty of between 18% and 60%). The higher transmissibility of this variant results in a higher absolute number of infections, thus leading to an increase in the number of serious cases.
  • The so-called African variant (Variant 501Y.V2, also known as B.1.351) identified in South Africa.
    Preliminary data show that this variant may also be characterised by increased transmissibility (50% more transmissible than previously circulating variants in South Africa), but it is currently unclear whether it causes differences in disease severity.
  • The so-called Brazilian variant (Variant P.1) with origin in Brazil.
    Studies have shown a potential for increased transmissibility. No evidence is available on disease severity.

The variant emerged in the United Kingdom (the so-called "English variant") is becoming prevalent in our country. According to the data of the second variant prevalence survey   conducted by the Institute of Health, with the support of the Foundation Bruno Kessler and in collaboration with the Ministry of Health, the Regions and the Autonomous Provinces, the prevalence of the "English variant" of the Sars-CoV-2 virus (variant VOC 202012/01, also known as B.1 .1.7) was 54.0%, ranging from 0% to 93.3% for individual regions, while the prevalence of the "Brazilian" (P.1 variant) was 4.3% (0%-36.2%) and the "South African" (501Y.V2 variant) was 0.4% (0%-2.9%).

  • Initial data confirm that all vaccines currently available in Italy are effective against the English variant of the new coronavirus (variant VOC 202012/01, also known as B.1.1.7).
  • Studies are under way to confirm the effectiveness of the vaccines on the other variants.

The emergence of new variants reinforces the importance for everyone, including those who have been infected or vaccinated, to adhere strictly to health and socio-behavioural control measures (use of face masks, physical distance, and hand hygiene).

In order to limit the spread of new variants, Italy has set out specific public health actions:

  • strengthen laboratory surveillance of new SARS-CoV-2 variants
  • provide guidance on implementing contact tracing and management of COVID-19 cases suspected/confirmed of variant infection
  • limit entry into Italy of travellers from countries most affected by the variants
  • carry out rapid prevalence surveys to correctly estimate the spread of variants in Italy
  • implement containment measures (red areas) in the most affected areas of the country, including at municipal level.


To find out more about travel restrictions

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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.

When a virus replicates or makes copies of itself, it sometimes changes slightly. These changes are called 'mutations'. A virus with one or more new mutations is referred to as a 'variant' of the original virus. Some mutations can lead to changes in the characteristics of a virus, such as altered transmission (e.g., it can spread more easily) or severity (e.g., it can cause a more severe disease).

So far, hundreds of variants of this virus have been identified worldwide. The WHO and its international network of experts constantly monitor the changes, so that if significant mutations are identified, the WHO can alert countries about any action that needs to be taken to prevent the spread of that variant.

Learn more

Three new variants are of major concern to WHO and ECDC experts:

  • United Kingdom (Variant B.1.1.7)
    This variant has been shown to have greater transmissibility than previously circulating variants. Additional studies are underway to assess possible increased disease severity, which has not been confirmed to date.
  • South Africa  (Variant 501.V2)
    Preliminary data indicate that this variant may also be characterised by higher transmissibility, lower than variant B.1.1.7, but it is currently unclear whether it causes differences in disease severity.
  • Brazil (Variant P.1)
    Studies have shown a potential for increased transmissibility or propensity for reinfection. No evidence is available on disease severity.

Studies are underway to confirm the effectiveness of vaccines on these three main variants.

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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 

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Symptoms (Show answers)

Symptoms of COVID-19 may vary, according to the severity of the disease, from no symptoms (being asymptomatic) to fever, cough, sore throat, weakness, fatigue, and muscle pain. More severe cases may involve pneumonia, acute respiratory distress syndrome and other complications, all of which can be life-threatening.

Sudden loss of sense of smell (anosmia) or diminished sense of smell (hyposmia), loss of taste (ageusia) or taste alteration (dysgeusia) have been recognised as symptoms of COVID-19.

Other less specific symptoms may include headache, chills, myalgia, asthenia, vomiting and/or diarrhoea.

Sources

Older people over 60 and those with pre-existing conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, cancer, and immunosuppressed patients (due to congenital or acquired disease, transplanted, or treated with immunosuppressive drugs) are more likely to develop severe forms of the disease. Men in these groups also appear to be at a slightly higher risk than women.

Children account for a small proportion of COVID-19 cases in the reported data. According to data from the European Surveillance System (TESSy) between August 1, 2020 and November 29, 2020, children aged 1-11 years and 12-18 years accounted for 5.5 and 7.4% of cases, respectively. Children appear to be as likely to be infected with SARS-CoV-2 as adults, with greater transmissibility in adolescents. However, children tend to have a much lower risk of developing serious symptoms or illnesses than adults.

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How the virus spreads (Show answers)

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 8-10 days in moderate cases, and on average up to two weeks in severe cases.

SARS-CoV2 is mainly transmitted by droplets and aerosols from an infected person when they sneeze, cough, talk or breathe, and are in close proximity to other people.

The virus has also been isolated from the faeces of infected cases, indicating that faecal-oral transmission could also be a route of infection.

Droplets may be inhaled or may rest on surfaces, with which others come into contact and are then infected by touching their nose, mouth, or eyes. The virus can survive on surfaces for a few hours (copper, cardboard) to several days (plastic and stainless steel). However, the amount of viable virus decreases over time and may not always be present in sufficient quantity to cause infection.

The incubation period for COVID-19 (i.e., the time between exposure to the virus and the onset of symptoms) is currently estimated to be between one and 14 days.

It is known that the virus can be transmitted when infected persons show symptoms such as coughing. An infected person can also transmit the virus up to two days before symptoms occur; the extent to which such asymptomatic infections contribute to transmission is currently unclear.

Therefore, it is essential to wash 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.

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.

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 positive 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.

This is the reason why it is always important to observe the prevention measures described above (physical distance, use of a mask, frequent hand washing).


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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 persons. Ensure a physical distance of at least 1 metre from others. 
  • It is mandatory to carry a face mask with you at all times. These must be worn, not only in closed spaces accessible to the public, as in the past, but also in indoor spaces in general, other than private homes, and also in all outdoor spaces. Exceptions are made in cases where, due to the characteristics of the place or the actual circumstances, the condition of isolation from non-residents is continuously guaranteed. Children under six years of age, people with pathologies or disabilities incompatible with the use of a face mask and those who interact with the latter, are excluded from the obligation to wear a face mask. Furthermore, the use of a face will not be mandatory during any sports activity.
  • The use of a face mask is also strongly recommended in private homes, if there are non-residents visiting.
  • 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:

Before

  • 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

After 

  • 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.

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)

At the end of the quarantine period, if no symptoms have appeared, anyone can return to work, and their period of absence will be justified by the relevant medical certificate.

Should anyone develop further symptoms during the quarantine period, the Public Health Department in charge of health surveillance will carry out a swab test for SARS-CoV-2. If the swab test is positive, a molecular test should be carried out, after at least three days without symptoms. If the molecular test is negative, the person can return to work, otherwise the isolation period will continue.

  • 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

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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

On the basis of ministerial memos and ordinances, the relevant local health authorities should apply the following measures to close contacts of a COVID-19 case: 

  • a quarantine period with an active surveillance of 14 days from the last exposure to the case, or
  • a quarantine period with active surveillance of 10 days from the last exposure, with a negative antigenic or molecular test performed on day 10.
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Protective devices (Show answers)

 It is always mandatory to carry a face mask with you.

These must be worn not only in closed spaces accessible to the public, as in the past, but more generally in indoor spaces other than private homes, and in all outdoor spaces. Exceptions are made in cases where, due to the characteristics of the place or the circumstances of fact, the condition of isolation from non-residents is continuously guaranteed. This is without prejudice to the anti-contagion protocols and guidelines provided for any business, productive, administrative, and social activities. In the workplace, therefore, the current safety rules continue to apply, without prejudice to the guidelines for the consumption of food and drink. Children under six years of age, people with pathologies or disabilities that are not compatible with the use of a mask, and those who interact with the latter, are excluded from these obligations. Wearing a mask will not be compulsory when performing sports activities.

The use of a face mask is also strongly recommended in private homes, if there are non-residents visiting.

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.

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.  
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.

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.

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

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

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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)

During the pandemic, positive SARS CoV-2 status in both bred and domestic animals was reported in several countries. Epidemiological evidence shows that felines (domestic and wild cats), minks and dogs tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, following contact with people infected with Covid19. Some cats showed clinical signs of disease. However, felines or dogs do not appear to play a role in the spread of the disease.

Minks area separate case, as not only has the SARS CoV-2 virus has been shown to be transmitted from humans to minks, but there has also been evidence that minks also have the ability to retransmit the virus to farm workers. This phenomenon has been observed in the Netherlands, and particularly in Denmark, where minks affected by SARS COV-2 have not only retransmitted the disease to farm workers, but the viruses have been found to be genetically mutated from those that were initially isolated.

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 

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

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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.

Although evidence is still scarce, vertical transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 virus cannot be excluded. To date, it is considered a rare but possible event. In Italy there are several cases of positivity among infants, presumably infected following contact with a positive mother during or after birth. It has been observed that these infants do not show major symptoms and this condition is not of particular concern. 

Pregnant women who are positive for the new coronavirus do not necessarily have to have a caesarean section. Based on current knowledge, there is no elective indication for a caesarean section in women who are positive for the new coronavirus and the current indications for caesarean section remain valid.

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.

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Children (Show answers)

  • Children are often asymptomatic or show mild symptoms of COVID-19 and have a much lower risk than adults of developing severe forms of the disease. However, the infection can in some cases lead to the development of complications or peculiar clinical forms.
    Therefore, great care must be taken when children show symptoms of infection, especially if they are less than one year old and have pre-existing medical conditions.
  • The ability of predominantly asymptomatic children to transmit SARS-CoV-2 compared to adults is yet unknown.


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Source:

Directorate-General for Preventive Healthcare


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