Omicron variant, yellow regions and red municipalities: does Covid raise its head?
While the first case of the Omicron variant in Italy has been ascertained, Friuli-Venezia Giulia passes into the yellow zone from Monday 29 November. And to the 20 municipalities already in red in South Tyrol, another 16 have been added.
The vaccination campaign continues and the number of people who have had the third dose of serum inoculated increases in a comforting way. Everything should contribute to making Italians spend Christmas holidays that are very different from those of last year.
However, the Omicron variant is scary, and the rates of contagion are rising in many of our regions.
Let’s first find out more closely what the South African variant of the Coronavirus is, which has also arrived in Italy. Then let’s see the trend of Covid in Italy. And finally, let’s remember what the so-called super green pass is, and since it will come into force.
The Omicron variant
The Omicron variant was first observed on November 12 in Hong Kong on a traveler returning from South Africa. That is why it is also identified as a South African variant.
The WHO has assigned the name of Omicron to the B.1.1.529 strain of the virus: it is now customary to attribute a progressive letter of the Greek alphabet to each new variant.
The Omicron variant was immediately classified as “worrying” (the highest level of danger).
The new variant and the effectiveness of vaccines
The Omicron variant has 32 mutations on the spike protein.
However, it is not certain that all mutations contribute to making the virus more transmissible or pathogenic. Omicron has some characteristics common to the Beta and Gamma variants, but it will take a few weeks to understand how much current vaccines can protect against infection and disease of the variant.
Companies are working on a custom serum for the Omicron variant, which Pfizer says could be ready in 100 days. Although experts doubt that this new strain will make the vaccines available to us superfluous today. Sergio Abrignani, full professor of Immunology at the State University of Milan and director of the Romeo and Enrica Invernizzi National Institute of Molecular Genetics, says: “It is more likely that the virus partially escapes the immune defense, as already happened in the Delta infection in which vaccine efficacy has dropped from previous variants, but defense against severe disease has remained high. In the case of Omicron, a further decrease in protection against infection is possible, but still a good defense against severe disease ”.
The first positive Italian patient
We go back to talking about patient zero. But this time in reference to the first Italian who tested positive for the Omicron variant. He is a fifty-five-year-old entrepreneur from the province of Caserta, who landed in Milan on his return from Mozambique.
The patient was vaccinated with two doses and is now “paucisymptomatic” (with few symptoms).
As we read in a note published on the website of the Istituto Superiore di Sanità on Saturday 27 November, the genome of the new variant “was sequenced at the Laboratory of Clinical Microbiology, Virology and Bioemergency Diagnostics of the Sacco Hospital in Milan from a positive sample of a subject from Mozambique. The patient and his family contacts are in good health conditions ”.
The last movements of the Caserta entrepreneur are now being reconstructed.
Covid in Italy: numbers on the rise
Health Minister Roberto Speranza on Sunday 28 November spoke of a “not easy pandemic phase”. And as regards the numbers, although ours are better than other European countries, they are still growing. “We are still in a very delicate phase to be managed carefully”.
And on vaccines: “The numbers of the last few hours are encouragingon Friday we did 294 thousand third doses and it is the highest figure ever, I am optimistic for significant growth in the next week.
We are interested in growing even in the first doses. At 7 this morning, 87.5% of people had their first dose, 85% completed their period. While we take the third dose we need to recover people who have not been vaccinated ”.
Friuli-Venezia Giulia in the yellow zone, 36 municipalities of Alto Adige in red
Meanwhile, from Monday 29 November Friuli-Venezia Giulia moved into the yellow zone.
This means that the super green pass will be activated in the Region, one week before the national entry into force (Monday 6 December).
And in the meantime, with an ordinance, the president of Alto Adige Arno Kompatscher has made his other 16 municipalities pass into the red zone. From 29 November, the municipalities of Alto Adige entered the maximum risk zone are therefore 36.
The super green pass
From 29 November in Friuli-Venezia Giulia, passed in the yellow zone, it is mandatory to wear a mask outdoors (not only in crowded places). And to access events and in public places such as restaurants, you will need the super green pass. The reinforced green pass, which in the rest of Italy will be in effect from 6 December to 15 January, is obtainable only after being vaccinated or recovered from Covid-19 in the six months prior to release.