In the case of “an evident epidemiological worsening” of Covid-19 “with serious clinical impact and / or on health care and / or on the functioning of essential services”, the use of masks “in closed public spaces may be a first option to limit transmission in the community. Similarly, in the event of a significant worsening of the epidemic, the temporary adoption of other measures may be considered, such as working from home or limiting the size of events involving gatherings “.
This is one of the passages of a new circular from the Ministry of Health, currently still in draft and under examination by the Regions – as Adnkronos Health learns – in which some indications are provided in view of the cold season.
The summer wave of Covid-19, caused by Omicron BA.4 and BA.5, highlighted “, we read in the introduction in the draft of the circular,” that the pandemic is not yet over.
“Several factors contribute to making the epidemiological evolution and the repercussions on the health system in terms of demand for assistance uncertain”: from the appearance of new viral variants capable of increasing the transmissibility or clinical severity of cases, to the degree of adherence to the vaccination campaign (fourth dose) and compliance with sanitation and behavioral measures, up to the co-circulation of others respiratory viruses (influenza, parainfluenza, respiratory syncytial virus, etc.).
“Although the evolution of the pandemic is currently unpredictable, our country must prepare – for the third consecutive year – to face an autumn and a winter in which an increased health care impact could be observed, attributable to various acute respiratory diseases”we read in the draft of the document.
“The future of the Sars-Cov-2 pandemic depends not only on new variants that can emerge and replace those previously circulating, but also on the behavior and immune status of the population. It is particularly important to avoid congestion in health care facilities by limiting the incidence of serious illness, protecting especially the most vulnerable people and influencing modifiable factors for which health systems and society must continue to adapt their response to the SARS epidemic. Cov-2 “.
“In the autumn-winter period 2022-2023, the Ministry and the other national institutions will continue to ensure clear, complete and evidence-based communication in order to encourage conscious adherence to institutional recommendations“, Reads the provision signed by the Director of Health Prevention of the Ministry of Health Giovanni Rezza and of Health Planning Stefano Lorusso.
The document also underlines how, in the next winter season, it is “likely an increase in pressure on laboratories and for diagnostics but also more generally, on virological surveillance networks due to a greater seasonal circulation of respiratory viruses”, and therefore recommends the need to foresee “System strengthening mechanisms in place. In fact, it will be essential – we read – to ensure a sufficient sequencing volume to monitor the viruses in circulation and the emergence of new viral variants and an adequate diagnostic capacity of the laboratories. Therefore, it is strongly recommended at least in elective contexts such as hospitals and emergency rooms, to collect samples to be subjected to molecular tests, to ensure in each Region / PA a minimum number of samples to be genotyped ”.
And again, on vaccinations: “In the autumn-winter 2022-2023 season, the goal of the vaccination campaign will be to continue to make the elderly and frail safe as a priority, protecting them from serious illness and hospitalization”.
Therefore it will be a priority – according to the ministry – to “consider in the preparation and implementation of the new vaccination strategies” a series of factors including the continuation of the vaccination campaign in progress, filling the gaps in the vaccination coverage of the primary cycle and the recommended boosters; the possibility of combining vaccination campaigns against Covid-19 and influenza and vaccination programs with adapted vaccines, identifying priority population groups and ensuring that there is sufficient availability of doses.
Finally – according to the Ministry of Health – “the identification of cases through tests, the isolation of cases and the targeted search for contacts continue to be useful tools for managing the SarS-CoV-2 epidemic”.
“Contact tracing and quarantine should primarily be conducted and applied in individuals at risk of serious illness, high-risk settings (healthcare, nursing homes and long-term care facilities), and in situations of greater concern (eg example, an emerging variant of interest or concern) “.