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Mass tests in Italian city seem to have stopped the Covid-19 outbreak

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Mass tests in Italian city seem to have stopped the Covid-19 outbreak

Maxim Shipenkov / EPA

Vò, a small town in northern Italy, can show you how to deal with the new coronavirus after health officials have stopped the spread of Covid-19, preventing new infections.

Italy's first death by Covid-19 was recorded in the city of Vò, in the north of the country, a community of 3,300 inhabitants in the province of Padua, 50 kilometers from Venice. The scientists involved say it was an experimental initiative that allowed them to create a complete "epidemiological picture" of Covid-19, according to the Financial Times.

Since the outbreak began, authorities have tested and retested all city residents – with or without symptoms. According to the Newsweek, between half and three quarters of people with Covid-19 in Vò, were asymptomatic.

Anyone who tested positive on these tests was placed in quarantine – as were everyone with whom he came into contact.

The tests started in late February, when approximately 3% of Vò residents were infected with the virus that causes Covid-19. Half were asymptomatic: they did not have symptoms such as fever, cough and shortness of breath typical of the disease. A second round of testing a few days later revealed that the infection rate had dropped to 0.3%.

“In the second test performed, we registered a 90% drop in the rate of positive cases. And of all who were positive in the second test, eight people were asymptomatic, ”said Professor Andrea Crisanti, an infection specialist at Imperial College London, on a sabbatical at the University of Padua, speaking to the Sky News.

The success of the experiment suggests that aggressive testing combined with complete quarantine on anyone who may be infected may help contain the outbreak elsewhere.

By testing everyone, local authorities were able to quarantine asymptomatic carriers – something that could not be achieved with more typical test methods used to confirm Covid-19 in people who already had signs of the disease.

"We were able to contain the outbreak here because we identified and eliminated the submerged infections and isolated them," said Crisanti. "That's what makes the difference."

"Of course, you can't test all Italians – but you can test people close to those who are asymptomatic," said Crisanti. "We must use asymptomatic cases as an alarm bell to expand our action."

On Wednesday, the World Health Organization urged more countries to test, isolate and track new cases of Covid-19 to contain the spread.

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