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Italy tightens Covid rules on public transport

 
Rome, Nov 17 (IANS) New measures to fight the spread of Covid-19 on public transport and in taxis came into force in Italy on Tuesday, as authorities attempt to contain a fourth wave of infections.

Under the new rules, which were signed off in a decree issued by health and transport ministers on Monday, all passengers will have to show their "green pass" before boarding long-distance and inter-regional trains, Xinhua news agency reported.

The green pass is a certificate showing that a person is either fully immunised or has received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, has recovered from the disease or tested negative in the last 48 hours.

The new measures concern all the country's major train stations, including Rome, Milan, and Florence, and all stations where checks are possible according to local conditions.

The government decree also states that if a passenger on board a train has coronavirus symptoms, railway staff and police may decide to stop the train in order to proceed with emergency interventions. This measure applies to all trains, including local trains on which passengers are not currently required to hold a green pass.

Taxis and car hire services with drivers (NCC) are now limited to a maximum of two passengers, except where passengers are members of the same family.

So far, compared to some other European countries the fourth wave has had a limited impact on the overall pandemic situation in Italy, but statistics show that infections have been on the rise for the last four weeks.

The latest report from Italy's National Health Institute (ISS) shows an incidence of 78 cases per 100,000 inhabitants in the week November 5-11, compared to 53 cases in the previous week.

It also shows that the reproduction number (Rt) was at 1.21 between October 20 and November 2, compared to 1.15 in the previous period.

A reproduction number above one indicates the virus is circulating quickly, since it means that one infectious person will, on average, transmit the infection to more than one other person.

Italian Health authorities are pushing forward with a vaccination campaign, focusing especially the need for people to receive a third vaccine dose six-nine months after the first.

This is viewed as the best way of containing the risk of new large outbreaks, considering the high percentage of people who are now fully immunized (84.2 per cent of the target population aged over 12, as of November 15.)

Administration of third doses started in the second half of September, initially to those with fragile immune systems. It continued in October, this time targeting those aged over 60.

On November 11, the Health Ministry said that booster shots would start being offered to people aged between 40 and 60, at least six months from the first dose, starting on December 1.

As of Tuesday, Italy has recorded a total of 4.8 million coronavirus cases, with more than 132,000 fatalities and over 4.6 million recoveries.

--IANS
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