Vo, home to around 3,000, sent shockwaves across Italy after becoming the first town in the country to report a death linked to the global pandemic, triggering a tragic chain of events across Europe. After the death of Adriano Trevisan, a local pensioner, the ministry of health described the countryside retreat as a “cluster of infection”. Almost immediately, on February 23, the town was placed under lockdown – some of the most draconian measures ever introduced in Italian history.
The local government representative introduced a sanitary cordon, no one could enter or leave the town, and only vital supplies – medicines and food – would be granted permission to cross the newly implemented border.
Following the South Korean model, 97 percent of Vo’s residents had been tested within six days of the quarantine being enforced.
Three percent of its population ended up testing positive for COVID-19, and were instantly put under mandatory confinement in their homes.
Alessio Turetta, a town councillor, told EU Observer: “The pillars of our strategy to manage the health emergency were quarantine and testing.
“Those who tested positive were contacted directly by the health district: carriers with no symptoms or those with mild symptoms were quarantined at home, while those showing more serious symptoms were immediately hospitalised.
“The carriers who remained at home were called several times a day to make sure they were abiding the quarantine, and check their conditions such their body temperature.”
And early signs showed the strategy was showing signs of working, with cases dramatically decreasing during the next round of mass testing.
During March 6 and 8, the authorities found only one percent of Vo’s population tested positive for coronavirus.
By March 23, the spread of the disease had stopped, and no new infections were recorded.
Boris Johnson announced a UK-wide lockdown last night after his pleas for people to stay at home was ignored.
The Prime Minister imposed the strictest measures the UK has faced in peacetime as the coronavirus death toll continued to rocket.
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He told the public the nation is facing a national emergency and said everyone must stay at home to save lives.
But in contrast to the Vo strategy, the UK has only been doing up to 5,000 tests a day – less than 0.01 percent of the entire population.
Health officials have said they want to see this number rise to 10,000 a day this week, to 25,000 within four weeks and then to 250,000.
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World Health Organisation chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has urged countries to “apply the lessons learned in Korea and elsewhere”.
South Korea has now conducted over 300,000 tests, enabling the authorities to almost instantly isolate those found to be infected with COVID-19.
Kang Kyung-wha, its foreign minister, said: “Testing is central because that leads to early detection, it minimises further spread and it quickly treats those found with the virus.”
She added mass testing was “the key behind our very low fatality rate”.
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