Italy plans to ease isolation rules on COVID-19 contacts

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

ROME (Reuters) – The Italian government said on Wednesday it plans to scrap self-isolation rules for people who come into contact with someone who has tested positive for the coronavirus provided they have received a booster dose, recently recovered or been vaccinated.

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

A government statement said isolation would no longer be required for those who received a booster dose, were vaccinated or recovered from the disease in the past 120 days. They will need to test negative five days after contact.

Quarantine will be reduced to five days from seven for those who were vaccinated or recovered from disease more than 120 days ago. They will also need a negative smear afterwards.

“I think it is reasonable to apply different rules to those citizens who have followed the government’s indications, with two doses and then a booster dose,” Undersecretary for Health Andrea Costa said.

Those who have not been vaccinated will still face a 10-day isolation period.

The government said the new rules will be implemented after consultation with the COVID-19 Commissioner.

Daily coronavirus cases rose in Italy this week, peaking at a record 98,030 on Wednesday, as the number of hospitalized patients rose. Read more

The government has tightened rules for the holiday period, banned outdoor concerts and events, closed discos until January 31, and made outdoor masks mandatory again. Read more

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

The Italian vaccination campaign proved to be effective, with approximately 80% completing the initial vaccination course and approximately 30% receiving a third dose.

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