As of 10 March 2020, all regions in Italy have been placed under lockdown
On 9 March 2020, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced that the entire country -- 60 million people -- will be placed under lockdown. These emergency measures have been taken to prevent further spread of the Coronavirus.
On 31 January 2020, Italy confirmed its first cases of COVID-19, commonly known as Novel Coronavirus, or simply, Coronavirus. The number of cases significantly increased by mid-February, and today, Italy has the second-highest number of Coronavirus-affected individuals in the world after China, surpassing South Korea.
• As of 10 March 2020, Italy has reported 41,035 positive cases of Coronavirus. The number is increasing each day.
• As per latest reports, 4,440 persons have been healed, while 3,405 have died due to the virus.
• Most of Northern Italy seems to be the worst affected. Major regions include Lombardy, Veneto and Emilia Romagna among others.
Italian authorities have taken several measures in an attempt to contain the Coronavirus. In this exhaustive guide, we’ve curated all the necessary material and resources you would require to know about Coronavirus in Italy.
Travelling To Italy - Here’s What You Need To Know
The Italian economy has been considerably affected by the Coronavirus. Several popular tourist attractions have closed down, major public events and festivals have been either postponed or cancelled.
Here’s how tourism and life has been affected due to Coronavirus in Italy:
11 towns have been placed under quarantine -- particularly in areas of Lombardy, Veneto and Emilia Romagna -- with nobody allowed in or out without express permission. These quarantine areas are part of the ‘Red Zone.’ Museums and historical sites in areas like Lombardy, Piedmont, Veneto, Emilia-Romagna, and Liguria among others have been shut down. Most of Italy’s industrial areas are located in the northern region, comprising around 3000 organizations. Due to the quarantine zones and fear of the virus, industrial output has been severely affected.
Milan, the fashion and financial center of Italy, located in the Lombardy region, has been impacted by the Coronavirus. While Milan has not been placed under the shutdown, major tourist attractions like the Duomo, La Scala Theatre, Piccolo Theatre and Fondazione Prada were shut down. While the much-awaited Milan Fashion Week did continue on schedule, segments like the Giorgio Armani Collection were broadcast on the Internet and not to a live audience. The Milan Furniture Fair has been pushed from April to June.
In Venice, St Marks Basilica, the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Palazzo Ducale and Museo del Vetro have been closed. Gondoliers in Venice are facing massive losses with tourists fleeing the city.
POpular tourist attractions like the Colosseum and Vatican Catacombs have been shut down.
Popular public events and festivals have been either postponed or canceled due to the Coronavirus in Italy. Vinitaly, an annual wine fair, has been pushed to June from April. A few events during the last days of the widely-celebrated Venice Carnival were canceled and the festival was shut down. The Ivrea Orange Festival, held in Piedmont’s Ivrea, along with the Carnevalone Liberato, held in Poggio Mirteto was also cancelled. The Mercanteinfiera, an event dedicated to vintage and modern collectibles held in Parma, has been pushed to June, while the Children’s Book Fair held in Bologna has been postponed to May. Umbria’s International Journalism Festival, held each year in April, has been cancelled.
Italy’s sporting world has been impacted as well: Four Serie A football matches, including one on Inter Milan’s home turf against Juventus, were canceled for fear of public safety. The country’s rugby and volleyball match fixtures have been pushed until further notice. The much-awaited Bologna marathon has been cancelled as well.
Across a number of cities, several bars and restaurants have shut down, while others close early in the day. If you’re planning on visiting popular tourist attractions in Italy, make sure to check official websites for updated information.
Which regions in Italy have been affected by the Coronavirus?
As of 10 March 2020, all of Italy's 20 districts have been affected by the Coronavirus. Valle d'Aosta, the smallest and least populated districts of Italy, was the last to be hit; it has reported 215 cases as of 19 March 2020.
The current number of positive cases stands at 33,190 with 3,405 reported fatalities.
Lombardy, Veneto, Emilia Romagna, Piemonte and Marche have reported the maximum number of cases.
Lombardy, home to popular tourist destinations like Milan, Bergamo and Como, has reported the maximum number of positive cases. Lombardy is where the Coronavirus outbreak first began. As of 19 March 2020, the region has reported 19,884 positive cases, the maximum in Italy. Emilia Romagna and Veneto have each reported 5,214 and 3,484 positive cases respectively.
To contain the virus, the Italian government had initially placed 11 towns under lockdown, i.e., part of the ‘Red Zone’. These included San Fiorano, Castiglione d’Adda, Somaglia, Terranova dei Passerini, Codogno, Castelgerundo, Fombio, Bertonico, Casalpusterlengo and Maleo, all in Lombardy. In Veneto, Vo’Euganeo town has been placed under lockdown. As of 8 March, more regions have been included under lockdown, effectively bringing about 16 million Italians under quarantine. The updated list includes: Modena, Parma, Piacenza, Regio Emilia and Rimini under Emilia Romagna region; Pesaro e Urbino in Marche region; Venezia, Padova and Treviso under Veneto region; Asti, Vercelli, Novara, Verbano Cusio Ossola and Alessandria in Piemonte region.
As of 10 March 2020, the entire country -- about 60 million people -- has now been placed under quarantine. No individual without express permission and requirement is allowed to travel in and out of the country.
International regulations for travel to Italy during Coronavirus
Most nations around the world have issued a travel advisory for those planning to visit or are returning from Italy.
The US has suspended all flights to and from countries in Europe -- except for the EU. President Donald Trump announced on March 12 that entry would be denied to anyone who has visited continental Europe in the last two weeks. This ban will be put in place effectively from Friday, 13 March. Airlines like Delta, United and American have implemented this ban immediately.
Similarly, the UK government has also issued a travel advisory to those intending to travel to Italy -- particularly to affected areas of Lombardy, Veneto and Emilia Romagna. The escalation is now at Level 3, as per the Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. Self-quarantine has been advised for those returning from Italy. Several British Airways flights have been canceled and those who wish to modify their bookings may do so until 31 March 2020. Due to a fall in demand, Wizz Air and Ryanair have canceled several flights.
On March 19, the Australian government announced complete closure of its borders. Only exceptions are permanent members and citizens. This travel ban at a Level 4 and as of now, is indefinite.
The Singapore government has banned entry from of travelers from regions like China, Europe, and other regions. Singapore residents and long-term pass holders must self-quarantine for 14 days.
The EU has collectively closed external borders. Those within Europe's borders can still commute with some reasonable restrictions. Citizens traveling back into Europe would need to place themselves in self-quarantine for 14 days.
The Indian government placed a strict travel ban on all those visiting India from Europe, UK, Turkey. All visas have been cancelled effective immediately. Indian citizens visiting affected countries have been asked to place themselves in self-quarantine for 14 days.
Security measures at Italy’s airports
Earlier, to contain the Coronavirus in Italy, officials had stated that domestic and international airports like Rome Fiumicino and Milan Malpensa, all passengers will be monitored for the Coronavirus; their body temperature will be measured with infrared thermometers. These checks have been extended to all international passengers, as of 5 February.
In case a passenger is suspected to carry Coronavirus, the emergency procedure involves immediately removing them from the premises and transferring them to an isolated medical facility. All the individuals they have had close contact with will be monitored as well. All airports in Italy have been equipped with a team of healthcare professionals to carry out these tasks.
With the entire country on lockdown now, airports have been emptied out. Flights across UK, US and other countries have been cancelled to and from Italy.
The need for comprehensive travel insurance
While you may have purchased or plan to purchase travel insurance before your trip, it is highly recommended that you carefully read the terms & conditions beforehand. This is essential today, particularly if you plan to visit Italy or any other country with confirmed positive cases of the Coronavirus. Reading the fine print beforehand will help determine if your insurance policy covers epidemics such as the Coronavirus since most insurance plans do not cover pandemics.
Your insurance should ideally offer coverage for:
- Emergency medical coverage: in case of any emergency visits to a doctor during the trip. This will benefit in case the traveler shows symptoms of Coronavirus and is required to consult a physician.
- Interruptions or cancelations: in the event of any interruption during the trip due to which you need to fly back home, or in case your trip is canceled at the last minute due to unforeseen circumstances.
- Emergency evacuation coverage: in the unfortunate situation where you are to be evacuated from an infected zone, the right insurance policy will cover all the costs.
A standard travel insurance policy will not cover pandemics like the Coronavirus, or for that matter, any last minute changes in your travel plan. If you’ve completed all your flight and accommodation bookings and change your mind at the last minute due to any reason, the insurance provider will not cover any cancelation charges.
You should specifically check for a policy that allows you to ‘cancel for any reason.’ This generally includes coverage for pandemics like the Coronavirus. Though these are more expensive compared to a standard policy, it is highly beneficial in the unfortunate case where someone might get infected. Experts recommend that your insurance policy cover at least $50,000 worth expenses. To be sure, call and check with your insurance provider on all aspects of a policy.
Know more about travel insurance coverage here.
Is it safe to travel to Italy?
Experts earlier claimed that it is safe to travel to most parts of Italy that aren't located in the North. However, with the government issuing a nation-wide lockdown, it is no longer safe to travel to Italy. The options are considerably limited, with most flights to and from Italy being cancelled and strict security placed at international borders to prevent visitors from entering or exiting the country.
For more information, please visit the official website of the Italian Ministry of Health.
Travelers in Italy
If you’re currently in Italy, there must be a lot on your mind regarding your safety amidst the Coronavirus outbreak. Try and stay indoors and limit movement to public spaces until authorities give the go-ahead to move about.
Measures taken to contain Coronavirus in Italy
The Italian law enforcement has taken various measures to help contain the situation.
• 10 towns in Lombardy and one town in Veneto have been placed under lockdown in a ‘Red Zone’ to help contain the virus. All major routes to and from these towns have been blocked and cops have been placed outside the periphery to prevent anyone from getting in or out. Latest emergency measures place the entire country under quarantine, effectively restricting any movement in and out of your region.
• Public movement has been restricted in areas marked under the ‘Yellow Zone.’ Schools and universities have been closed for two weeks, while events and festivals have been postponed and cancelled. All sporting events in public and private spaces have been suspended until further notice. Religious events like Sunday Mass have been cancelled indefinitely. Most cinemas, bars and restaurants in the Yellow Zone have closed down as well.
• All sporting events, festivals and public gatherings have been postponed and/or cancelled.
• Disinfectants have been placed in most public places and authorities encourage avoiding unnecessary hand contact with another. Supermarkets are being carefully monitored as well. Visitors have been restricted from entering hospital premises and nursing homes; only health personnel and patients will be allowed until further notice.
• Health professionals recommend that in case children and senior citizens show symptoms of the flu, they first call a doctor and get a consultation before visiting a clinic or hospital. This helps prevent the spread of infection between “the sick and the healthy,” they say. Those above the age of 75 have been advised to stay indoors. People have also been advised against kissing, hand-holding and hugging.
Safety measures on public transport
Public transport services like buses, trams and metros, and trains have been affected by Coronavirus in Italy as well. Public transport to the Red Zone has been suspended. Buses and trams within cities continue functioning, although they have emptied out considerably. All public transport vehicles are being thoroughly sanitized and disinfected; due to this, there might be a disruption in services. Ensure to check beforehand for all relevant travel/commute-related information.
Railway providers like Trenitalia have taken various protective measures to ensure public transport remains safe for use. Hand sanitizer dispensers have been made available in every train, while trains to stations in the Red Zone have been suspended, leaflets will be distributed through all trains and regular announcements will be made to ensure proper dissemination of Coronavirus-related information.
Emergency contact information
Italian authorities have released toll-free contact information, in case of any emergency. The national numbers are 112 and 118, to be dialed in case of a dire emergency. Dial 1500 for any Coronavirus-related emergency or assistance; this public utility number directly connects to representatives at the Ministry of Health.
The ministry has also released a list of region-specific toll-free emergency numbers. Dial 800894545 for Lombardy, 800462340 for Veneto, and 800033033 for Emilia-Romagna. All other region-specific emergency numbers can be found here.
Coronavirus testing process
If you show symptoms of the virus and need to get tested, here’s how the process would go down: Similar to testing for the flu, Coronavirus is also tested by collecting a specimen from the patient’s body. This sample is collected via a swab through your nose and mouth and sent to a qualified laboratory for testing. It will then be checked for the genetic code unique to COVID-19. You should receive test results in about 24 hours.
However, most hospitals in the Red and Yellow Zones are overcrowded and understaffed, which can result in delayed test results. Public hospitals across Italy are struggling to cope with the sudden surge in patients. Separate wards have been designated for those who have tested positive for Coronavirus in Italy.
Along with the collection of a specimen, you will also be asked relevant questions about your recent travel history, contact history with other individuals who may or may not have the virus, and other medical history about previous illnesses/diseases like pneumonia, severe cough etc.
Local terms to help you get by
If you do not speak the local language, here’s a few helpful phrases that can help guide you in the right direction:
• I have a fever - ho la febbre
• I have a headache - ho mal di testa
• I have a cough - ho un tosse
• I have a cold - ho un raffredore
• Where is the hospital? - dov’e l’ospedale
• I have the flu - ho I’influenza
• Can you help me? - mi potete aiutare?
• Please - per favore
• Thank you - grazie
Coronavirus - Here’s How You Stay Safe
Coronavirus in Europe
Of the 44 nations in Europe, 43 have reported positive cases of Coronavirus.
Italy has reported the maximum number of cases within Europe, with France, Germany, Spain, the UK, Switzerland, Norway, Netherlands, Sweden and Austria following behind. The only country to have not reported any positive cases of Coronavirus is Montenegro.
Now that we’ve discussed about Coronavirus in Italy at length, let’s discuss some basics about the pandemic that has spread across the globe.
What is the Coronavirus?
The Coronavirus is essentially a family of viruses. These cause illnesses ranging from a regular flu to severe diseases like SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome). The disease that is currently present across the globe is known as the Novel Coronavirus or COVID-19; this is a new strain of virus previously undiscovered in humans or animals.
What are Coronavirus symptoms?
Coronavirus symptoms are similar to that of a common cold; it might be difficult to differentiate between symptoms of the two. If signs of cough, fever, respiratory congestion and breathing difficulties persist for longer than a week to 10 days, please contact a doctor. In rare cases, Coronavirus might cause kidney failure, pneumonia and/or death.
How does Coronavirus spread?
As a contagious disease, Coronavirus spreads when there is verbal or physical contact between an infected person and a healthy person. The primary transmission method is when droplets of saliva from an infected person reaches a healthy person. This could be through coughing or sneezing on a healthy person, handshakes, sharing of water bottles, touching infected surfaces and other forms of physical contact. Secondary form of transmission is when a healthy person’s hand touches surfaces that have been contaminated by a virus -- say when an infected person coughs into their hand and touches the railing at the train station -- and they in turn touch their own eyes, nose or mouth.
Who is at most risk of contracting Coronavirus?
Those who have had close contact with infected persons are at a great risk of contracting Coronavirus. Moreover, senior citizens and those with underlying diseases can contract Coronavirus. Those with pre-existing heart, kidney or liver-related diseases are at greater risk. Infants and toddlers are also at a high risk of contracting Coronavirus.
Can Coronavirus be cured?
There is no vaccine for Coronavirus yet; experts say it is still more than a year away. According to the WHO, about 80% of those who contract Coronavirus recover completely after just a few weeks of fever, cough and other symptoms. The remaining develop complications like pneumonia or the virus attacks pre-existing medical conditions from which recovery is unlikely.
How do I protect myself from contracting Coronavirus?
The simplest and most effective solution is to wash your hands thoroughly and frequently with soap and water; particularly after you visit and touch public spaces or have been in close contact with someone who exhibits warning symptoms. It is also essential that you avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth -- the fastest way to contract the virus.
Masks are only useful if you’re in close contact with someone who has flu-like symptoms, or if you have the virus and need to avoid contact with others.