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Coronavirus digest: Italy adds restrictions for unvaccinated

January 10, 2022

New regulations in Italy mean most public travel and team sports are off-limits to those without a COVID-19 jab. Meanwhile, Uganda has ended the worlds-longest break for in-person learning. DW has the latest.

Travelers at the Milan central train station
All train travelers in Italy must now present proof of vaccination or recent recoveryImage: Nicola Marfisi/Avalon/Photoshot/picture alliance

On Monday, several new restrictions came into place in Italy for those not vaccinated against COVID-19. 

In order to visit restaurants, hotels, trade fairs, ski lifts, or ride on local or long-distance trains and buses, you must now present proof of vaccination against or recent recovery from COVID-19. Previously, a negative test result was also accepted.

The new rule also applies to team sports — so all professional soccer players must be vaccinated in order to play.

Tourists from other countries in the European Union can use the QR codes of their vaccination certificates to get around in Italy.

Italy has seen a spike in infections recently. The latest incidence rate showed 1,669 new cases per 100,000 residents in the last seven days.

The majority of schools opened Monday for a new term, despite calls from principals, the doctors' union and some mayors to delay the return to class for at least two weeks. However, over 1,000 councils across the country were keeping their schools closed, media reports said.

Here are the latest major developments on coronavirus from around the world:


School pupils in Uganda returned to the classroom, in some cases for the first time in nearly two years.

In the world's longest disruption to in-person learning, schools across the country had been partially or completely shut down across the country since March 2020.

Local experts and teachers have warned, however, that the long pause will prove a permanent end to the education of many students, who have begun working in the meantime to help support their families.


A massive booster campaign has begun in India, with frontline workers and inhabitants over 60 being first in line to get further doses of COVID-19 vaccines.

India has recently reported a surge in cases, particularly amongst health care personnel and essential workers such as police.

Schools in Nepal will close for nearly three weeks after a spike in coronavirus cases, a government spokesman said on Monday. The move will see more than 7 million students stay at home. 

Education Ministry spokesman Deepak Sharma said schools would remain closed until January 29, although a campaign to vaccinate children aged 12 to 17 at their schools would go ahead.

China reported more cases of the omicron variant on Monday, as authorities remain vigilant for infections in major cities ahead of the Beijing Winter Olympics.

There are several outbreaks keeping authorities busy, one being in Xi'an, a city of 13 million which is into its third week of lockdown.

Mass testing is also taking place in the city of Tianjin which has 14 million residents, after a cluster of infections was discovered, linked to the omicron variant. Authorities have so far reported 41 COVID-19 infections out of 3.4 million residents tested in the port city.


Sajid Javid, the health minister of the United Kingdom, has ordered the country's private health care providers to strike a deal with the National Health Service to provide crucial treatments, such as cancer surgery, should the NHS become overwhelmed with coronavirus patients.

Hospitalizations for COVID-19 are at their highest in the UK since last February, and ill personnel have meant staffing shortages at many health care facilities.

Sweden's prime minister on Monday said that bars and restaurants must not remain open later than 11pm.

Magdalena Andersson also urged people to work from home where possible and use remote learning as an option for students as the country tries to tackle rising COVID-19 infections.

"We believe that the situation requires further measures over a period of time, in order to curb the spread of infection and reduce the burden on health care," Andersson said.

In the Vatican, Pope Francis on Monday said that getting vaccinated was a "moral obligation" while he cautioned those being influenced by "baseless information."

"Frequently people let themselves be influenced by the ideology of the moment, often bolstered by baseless information or poorly documented facts,'' the pontiff said.

``Vaccines are not a magical means of healing, yet surely they represent, in addition to other treatments that need to be developed, the most reasonable solution for the prevention of the disease,'' Pope Francis added.

How could Europe stop omicron?

Slovenia's ski federation has called off upcoming Nordic skiing events in the Planica valley due to concerns over COVID-19.

The governing body on Monday said that it had taken the lead from health authorities and scrapped four cross-country and three Nordic combined events.

"Due the current acute development of the pandemic in Slovenia, the safety of stakeholders involved at those large scale events could not be guaranteed," the International Ski Federation said.

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) said on Monday that it could make a decision in the coming weeks to approve Pfizer's COVID-19 antiviral pill.

The US pharmaceutical has applied for authorization of its drug called Paxlovid.

"The EMA will assess the benefits and risks of Paxlovid under a reduced timeline and could issue an opinion within weeks," the regulator said in a statement.

Merck & Co has made a similar application for its pill, molnupiravir. US health authorities authorized both drugs in December.

Middle East

The United Arab Emirates has introduced a ban on unvaccinated citizens from overseas travel. The move comes amid a global spike in infections.

Those who are fully vaccinated would have to have a booster shot in order to travel according to local news agency WAM, citing the country's Foreign Ministry.

The UAE has confirmed 764,493 cases and 2,556 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic.

Israel's health ministry on Monday reported that infections had reached new daily highs.

The ministry said there had been 21,501 new cases in the past 24 hours. Its believed the figures could be higher, but Israel has eased up on testing.

Around 61 percent of the country has been fully vaccinated.

The country has also introduced fourth jabs to eligible groups of its population including those who work in healthcare and people with compromised immune sytems, among others.

kb, es/rt (AP, AFP, dpa, Reuters)