The one Italian town with no new COVID-19 cases since March 13

The governor of the Veneto region Luca Zaia.
The governor of the Veneto region Luca Zaia. Photo credit: Getty

An Italian town hasn't had a single confirmed case of COVID-19 coronavirus since March 13 after initiating successful mass testing and lockdown.

Fifty kilometres from Venice is the small town Vò, which recorded Italy's first COVID-19 death - a 78-year-old man on February 23 - ABC reported.

But the initial shock convinced researchers from the University of Padua along with regional officials and the Red Cross to test every town resident, including people with no symptoms. Around 3300 people were tested.

"We tested everybody," Andrea Crisanti, an infections expert at Imperial College London, told the ABC's The World Today.

Overall the results found nearly 3 percent of the town, at least 90 residents, were infected. 

They also showed at least six people who had no symptoms had tested positive.

Professor Crisanti said Italian health authorities weren't concerned but the town was and every resident who had tested positive was put into quarantine.

"They were asked not to go out, and not to have contact with any other people," Professor Crisanti said.

The patients were not even allowed to visit the hospital out of fear of spreading the virus.

After two weeks the researchers retested the whole town and found the infection rate had significantly dropped to 0.41 percent.

"We were able to contain the outbreak here because we identified and eliminated the 'submerged' infections and isolated them," Crisanti told the Financial Times as reported by The Guardian. "That is what makes the difference."

The research showed the importance of being proactive on the illness and locking down people even if they were showing no symptoms.

If these people had not been discovered they probably would have unknowingly infected other people, the researchers said.

The governor of the Veneto region Luca Zaia is now declaring Vò as "the healthiest place in Italy".

"Here there were the first two cases. We tested everyone, even if the 'experts' told us this was a mistake: 3000 tests. We found 66 positives, who we isolated for 14 days, and after that six of them were still positive. And that is how we ended it."

But while the research showed the advantages of mass testing, Prof Crisanti admits it would be hard to carry out in a big city.

Italy has been hard hit by coronavirus with the death toll now larger than every other country.

Of the 47,000 cases confirmed in Italy, 4440 have recovered and 4032 have died.

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