clearn.png
Friday November 27th, 2020 3:58AM

German-speaking Italian province conducts mass rapid test

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

BOLZANO, Italy (AP) — Citizens in Italy’s small Germany-speaking province of South Tyrol lined up Friday at schools, gymnasiums and pharmacies for rapid coronavirus tests, the largest testing initiative in the country to date and one that officials hope will speed the lifting of a partial locally imposed lockdown.

The Alpine province bordering Austria is following the example of Slovakia, which moved to slow infections and avoid a second lockdown by testing nearly two-thirds of its 5.5 million people in one weekend this month.

In South Tyrol, officials and family doctors are urging citizens in the province with a population of more than half a million to participate in the voluntary screening by showing up at nearly 200 testing sites. The goal is to test 350,000 people, or 80% of the population over age 5, by Sunday.

By comparison, Italy carries out some 200,000-250,000 molecular tests with nasal swabs a day.

“The comprehensive screening is a very big and perhaps the only, chance to get the risk of infection under control again,’’ the province’s top health official, Thomas Widmann, said this week.

Mass testing is seen as a way to isolate asymptomatic carriers of the new coronavirus, who are major spreaders in the resurgence that has seen confirmed cases spike throughout Europe beyond the numbers reported during the pandemic's first deadly peak in the spring.

The rapid antigen tests South Tyrol is using for its current drive are considered by many key to boosting testing capacity because they don’t require labs to generate results like the more reliable but costly and time-consuming nasal swabs. But experts warn that the 15-minute tests can produce false negatives and that using them effectively for screening requires frequent retesting.

India used the rapid tests to increase testing for the virus nearly five-fold this summer. In Britain, the city of Liverpool in northwest England has tested more than 130,000 of the half-million residents since early November, a project the U.K. government hopes to replicate, if it's successful. Since early November all of England has been under a lockdown, with restaurants, pubs and non-essential shops closed but schools open.

South Tyrol hospitals are at a breaking point, with more than 93% of beds dedicated to COVID-19 patients, down from a recent peak of 99%. Still, that's far higher than the Italian national average of just over 50%. As of Friday, 468 patients in the province were hospitalized with the virus, plus 38 in intensive care, with another nearly 10,200 in home quarantine.

Within the first two hours of the rapid tests, 24,000 or some 4.4 % of the province had participated in mass screening, with nearly 600 testing positive, or 2.5%.

“This is important, the virus needs to be blocked in some way,'' said Barbara De Prezzo, who was getting tested with her adult son in Bolzano. ”Everyone I know is for it. I am a babysitter and go to a family that has small children. They will be more serene, and so will I be, knowing I am not bringing home the virus."

The province, which enjoys considerable autonomy from Rome especially on issues like health care, declared itself a red zone on Nov. 8, several days after the Italian government imposed partial lockdowns on four regions. The Italian Health Ministry on Friday extended partial lockdowns in the four regions, which include epicenter Lombardy, until Dec. 3.

Hopes for a true return to normalcy remain pinned globally on the success of recent vaccine tests. Italy plans to begin distributing the Pfizer vaccine to 1.6 million Italians most at risk of exposure and the elderly starting in January. The government expects to reach most of the population that wants to be vaccinated by the end of September, assuming that regulatory approvals go through as expected, the national commissioner for the COVID-19 emergency, Domenico Arcuri, said Thursday.

“This will be the biggest campaign to administer a vaccine that we can remember, not just in Italy but in all of Europe and many parts of the world,’’ Arcuri told a news conference.

Hungary, meanwhile, has received doses of a Russian coronavirus vaccine, making it the first country in Europe to receive samples of Sputnik 5, the drug hailed by Russian President Vladimir Putin as the world’s first registered COVID-19 vaccine. The drug has not undergone advanced clinical trials and has not yet been assessed by the European Medicines Agency, the European Union’s drug regulator. Clinical trials of the samples will begin in Hungary next month.

___

Colleen Barry reported from Milan.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Health, AP World News
© Copyright 2020 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
German-speaking Italian province conducts mass rapid test
Citizens in Italy’s small Germany-speaking province of South Tyrol have lined up at schools, gymnasiums and pharmacies for rapid coronavirus tests, the largest testing initiative in the country to date
10:54AM ( 7 minutes ago )
Mich. leaders head to DC as Trump bids to subvert election
Two Michigan state legislators are headed to the White House as President Donald Trump makes an extraordinary and sure-to-be futile attempt to block Joe Biden’s victory in the battleground state and subvert the results of the 2020 presidential election
10:50AM ( 11 minutes ago )
Azerbaijani leader hails handover of region ceded by Armenia
Azerbaijani forces entered the war-ravaged ghost town of Aghdam on Friday, regaining a once-beloved city a quarter-century after being driven out by Armenian forces
10:44AM ( 18 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
What does emergency use for a COVID-19 vaccine mean?
The first COVID-19 vaccines to be given in the U.S. are expected to get a green light from regulators under a process known as emergency use authorization
9:46AM ( 1 hour ago )
Pfizer seeking emergency use of its COVID-19 vaccine in US
Pfizer is set to ask U.S. regulators to allow emergency use of its COVID-19 vaccine, starting a process that could bring first shots as early as next month
8:56AM ( 2 hours ago )
India virus cases pass 9M; capital's hospitals under strain
India has hit a grim milestone, recording 9 million infections
8:47AM ( 2 hours ago )
AP Health
American passenger recalls trying to kill train attacker
One of three Americans acclaimed as heroes for tackling an alleged Islamic State gunman aboard a Paris-bound train testified at the man’s trial Friday that he tried to kill him
9:49AM ( 1 hour ago )
APEC leaders, including Trump, begin virtual meeting
Leaders from the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum have begun a virtual meeting to seek ways to revive their coronavirus-battered economies, with U.S. President Donald Trump participating for the first time since 2017
9:03AM ( 1 hour ago )
EU gives upbeat assessment of state of Brexit trade talks
 The European Union has issued one of its most upbeat assessments of the state of post-Brexit trade negotiations
8:50AM ( 2 hours ago )
AP World News
Mich. leaders head to DC as Trump bids to subvert election
Two Michigan state legislators are headed to the White House as President Donald Trump makes an extraordinary and sure-to-be futile attempt to block Joe Biden’s victory in the battleground state and subvert the results of the 2020 presidential election
10:50AM ( 12 minutes ago )
Azerbaijani leader hails handover of region ceded by Armenia
Azerbaijani forces entered the war-ravaged ghost town of Aghdam on Friday, regaining a once-beloved city a quarter-century after being driven out by Armenian forces
10:44AM ( 18 minutes ago )
Browns star Myles Garrett on COVID list, out for Eagles game
Cleveland Browns defensive star Myles Garrett has tested positive for COVID-19 and will miss Sunday’s game against the Philadephia Eagles
10:37AM ( 25 minutes ago )
Florida's Sen. Scott has coronavirus, 'very mild symptoms'
Sen_ Rick Scott of Florida says he has tested positive for the coronavirus and is isolating at home with “very mild symptoms.”
10:34AM ( 28 minutes ago )
Universal strikes another deal with a major theater chain
Another major movie theater chain has struck a deal with Universal Pictures to allow for shorter exclusive theatrical windows
10:25AM ( 37 minutes ago )