Pescara becomes Italy's hotspot for the UK-discovered COVID-19 variant
Updated 01:19, 25-Feb-2021
Hermione Kitson in Pescara


Italy has labeled areas with the strictest COVID-19 restrictions as red zones, as the aggressive variant first discovered in the UK continues to spread, particularly among young people.

Giustino Parruti has worked as a doctor at Pescara Hospital for almost 30 years and says he's shocked by how quickly the new variants arrived in Italy.

"I never thought that Pescara would become the heart of the new phase of the pandemic."


Pescara Hospital's COVID-19 wards are currently treating over 300 patients. /CGTN Europe

Pescara Hospital's COVID-19 wards are currently treating over 300 patients. /CGTN Europe


He and his wife are among 150 doctors and nurses manning 11 COVID-19 wards day and night. The vast majority of the 305 COVID-19 patients there have the variant first discovered in the UK.

Parruti says the system was inundated all of a sudden, and the situation is worsening. "We have a wave of patients more serious, more difficult to treat and more numerous than ever."



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At nearby Chieti-Pescara University's COVID-19 diagnosis laboratory, a thousand samples are tested a day.

The lab's director, Liborio Stuppia, says the prevalence of the UK-discovered variant in Pescara is three times the national average: "We have about 65 percent as compared to 20 percent for all of Italy.”

A big concern is the circulation of the variants among young people. Now 20 percent of those testing positive are under the age of 20.

"We had a lot of children infected and that was the trigger of a faster diffusion of the epidemic," explains Parruti.

The age of patients in critical care has also fallen, with many between 45 and 65 years.


Pescara Hospital staff analyzing swab samples. /CGTN Europe

Pescara Hospital staff analyzing swab samples. /CGTN Europe


The first cases of the UK-discovered variant were detected in Pescara at the end of December. Two weeks later, flights to and from London were suspended but experts say air travel is not necessarily the reason for the region's outbreak.

"Connections with the UK are presented in all Italian regions, so it is very difficult to understand why Abruzzo and why Pescara," says Stuppia.

However, at this emergency stage, the focus is not the source but stopping the spread and those on the frontline are pleading for caution.

"Because the variants are very aggressive, we have to be very patient and very careful," warns Stuppia.

Red zone restrictions will be extended in Pescara and Chieti into March.

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