Italy relaxes isolation rules for COVID-19 contacts


People wearing face masks walk the streets as the Lazio region makes face masks mandatory outdoors in all areas as cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) increase and Christmas draws near, in Rome, Italy, December 23, 2021. REUTERS / Yara Nardi

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ROME, December 29 (Reuters) – Italy on Wednesday lifted self-isolation rules for those who come in contact with someone who tests positive for the coronavirus provided they have received a booster, have recently recovered or have been vaccinated.

The move comes after health experts urged the government to rethink its policies as the spread of the highly contagious variant of Omicron could cripple the country by forcing millions to stay at home. Read more

Under Italian measures, isolation will no longer be required for those who have had a positive contact but received a booster dose, been vaccinated or recovered from the disease in the past 120 days, according to a statement of the Cabinet.

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They will need to wear a more protective Ffp2 mask (equivalent to KN95 or N95 in other areas) for 10 days and, only if they show symptoms, get tested within five days of contact with the positive person.

“I think it is reasonable to apply different rules to citizens who followed the government’s directions, taking two doses and then the booster,” said Under Secretary of Health Andrea Costa.

The government has further tightened restrictions on unvaccinated people.

From January 10, other activities – including outdoor restaurants, hotels and ski lifts – will only be open to those vaccinated and those who have recently recovered from the disease. The same rules will apply for public transport.

Daily coronavirus cases have skyrocketed in Italy this week, peaking at a record 98,030 on Wednesday, with an increase in the number of hospital patients. Read more

The rules for the holiday period had already been tightened. Prime Minister Mario Draghi’s administration has banned concerts and outdoor events, closing nightclubs until January 31. read more

Italy has also imposed restrictions on travelers, including those from within the European Union who must now take a coronavirus test before departure.

The Italian vaccination campaign was found to be effective with almost 80% of them having completed an initial round of vaccination and around 30% having received a third injection.

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Reporting by Angelo Amante Editing by Giles Elgood and Sandra Maler

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