Italy relaxes Covid isolation rules as Omicron cases increase

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People wearing face masks walk past a store window in Rome, Italy on December 29, 2021 as coronavirus disease (COVID-19) infections rise. REUTERS / Guglielmo Mangiapane

Italy has relaxed coronavirus quarantine rules and has mandated vaccines on most activities to keep essential services running after the country recorded a record number of cases on consecutive days.

Mario Draghi’s government has completely lifted its quarantine requirements for people who come into contact with a Covid-19 case as long as they have received three doses of vaccine, according to a statement. Isolation time will also be shortened from seven to five days for vaccinated individuals whose last dose was more than 120 days prior to exposure, it said. Unvaccinated individuals must continue to be isolated for 10 days.

The government has also agreed to extend the use of a so-called “Super Covid Pass” – which is only given to people who have been vaccinated and recovered from Covid – for most activities, including use of local transport and food in, from January 10th Outdoors.

The revised rules are set to go into effect as Italy faces a surge in virus cases that threatens to disrupt essential services. There were 98,030 confirmed cases on Wednesday, up from 78,313 the day before, powered by the fast-spreading Omicron variant.

Initial studies of the variant, suggesting it is milder than other strains – especially in those who received three doses of vaccine – have put pressure on Italian health officials to relax their stance on isolation. Other countries have taken similar steps to avoid staff shortages that would affect health care and education.

In the US, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said this week that anyone with Covid can get out of isolation after five days if they no longer have symptoms, cutting the recommended duration in half.


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