Terms & Definitions

Suspected case

A person with acute respiratory infection (sudden onset of at least one of the following symptoms: fever, cough, dyspnea) who may or may not have requested hospitalization in the 14 days preceding the onset of symptoms, and has satisfied at least one of the following conditions:

  • Travel history or residence in China or other areas affected by the virus;
  • Close contact with a probable or confirmed case of SARS-CoV-2 infection;
  • Worked or attended a healthcare facility where patients with SARS-CoV-2 infection were hospitalized.


Probable case

A suspected case whose test result for SARS-CoV-2 is doubtful or inconclusive using specific Real Time PCR protocols for SARS-CoV-2 at the identified Regional Reference Laboratories or is positive using a pan-coronavirus test.

Confirmed case

A case with a laboratory confirmation carried out at the reference laboratory of the Istituto Superiore di Sanità for SARS-CoV-2 infection, regardless of clinical signs and Symptoms.

Close contact

  • Healthcare professional or other person employed in the assistance of a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19.
  • Laboratory staff involved in the treatment of SARS-CoV-2 samples.
  • Being in close contact (face to face) or in the same closed environment with a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19.
  • Living in the same house as a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19.
  • Having traveled by plane in the same row or in the two previous or subsequent rows of a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19, traveling companions or care-givers, and crew members assigned to the section of the plane where the case index was seated (if the index case has a severe symptomatology or has moved within the aircraft indicating greater passenger exposure, consider all passengers seated in the same section of the aircraft or throughout the aircraft as close contacts).