What is the "scenario 3" of the Covid-19 epidemic in which Italy is located and how it can evolve

What is the scenario 3 of the Covid-19 epidemic in which Italy is located and how it can evolve

Conte said that Italy is in scenario 3 of the pandemic. It is reached when the national Rt value is equal to 1.5. Here's what measures it involves and how it evolves

(photo: Mabel Amber via Pixabay) “We are in scenario 3”, explained the Prime Minister, Giuseppe Conte, in a question time in the Chamber. Wired has already talked about the topic recently, following the publication on the website of the Higher Institute of Health of a document with the 4 scenarios relating to the Covid-19 epidemic and its evolution and the corresponding possible restrictive measures to be adopted according to the Scientific Technical Committee (Cts). When it was disclosed about two weeks ago, we were still in scenario 2, where the Rt value was between 1 and 1.25 and the spread of the virus was sustained but slower. As of today, 29 October, we are in scenario 3. Here's what it means and how the situation could evolve.

Scenario 3: what the document provides

In scenario 3 the value of Rt - a central parameter for assessing the level of virus transmission, as well as the progress of the epidemic - is between 1.25 and 1.5. In this scenario, in many cases the transmission chains cannot be tracked and the support services start showing signs of overload. Therefore, the CTS document provides for the blocking of cultural, social and recreational activities in this situation. There is also a possible indication of the interruption of some production activities most at risk and possibly of mobility between regions or within the same region and the temporary closure of schools. If scenario 3 continues for at least 3 weeks, local and temporary lockdowns and red zones are possible.

Why we are in scenario 3

The latest data reported by the Ministry of Health relating to the monitoring of Covid-19 show that Rt in the period from 1 to 14 October, calculated on symptomatic cases , is effectively equal to 1.5 at the national level. "The epidemic is rapidly worsening", reads the ministry's text, "and overall compatible with a type 3 scenario with greater rapidity in some Italian regions". In most regions it is above 1.25 and the ministry reports that "there is a rapid increase in incidence, the increasingly frequent impossibility of keeping track of all transmission chains and the rapid increase in the burden on welfare services with increase in the occupancy rates of hospital beds in both critical and non-critical areas ". The picture, therefore, corresponds to that described in scenario 3.

Attention is maximum

Furthermore, there has been an important increase in the number of hospitalized and "if the epidemiological trend maintains the current pace, there is a high probability that numerous Regions and Autonomous Provinces will reach critical employment thresholds in a very short time ”.

The document also refers to schools. The health authorities have found that outbreaks originating in the school environment are increasing, even if the infection often does not take place inside the school (here 3.5% of all outbreaks) but during extracurricular activities, to reach school and outside from buildings, as well as on social occasions for students to meet.

In this situation, the ministry indicates that measures are necessary - which were then taken in the last dpcm - to reduce physical interactions between people and to relieve the pressure on health services. "It is essential that the population reduce all opportunities for contact with people outside their own home", we read on the ministry page, "when they are not strictly necessary and to stay at home as long as possible".

How the epidemic will evolve

The premier explained that we are in scenario 3 and that the consequent measures adopted are based on those of the technical committee document. After extensive analysis, reports Conte, the committee shared the provisions of the dpcm. The next question is: will these measures be sufficient to contain the epidemic? Will the situation improve? The effects of the measures are not immediate and it takes time (a few weeks) to assess their impact, according to the scientists. The hope is that we can put a stop to the growth of infections to ensure that the epidemiological curve - and therefore the situation - does not get out of hand. In practice, we must avoid arriving at the last scenario, scenario 4, in which the average Rt at the national level is higher than 1.5 which may require a generalized lockdown. In general, hoping that things go for the best, it is very likely that scenario 3 will not immediately return to scenario 1, but that it takes careful observation and time before the situation settles and regresses. The idea is that, a bit like when making a tailored suit, the restrictions and reopenings must be calibrated from time to time, based on the updates and the scenario taking place in a given period.

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