Italy reports 78 new deaths, Red Cross starts blood tests

Italy reports 78 new deaths, Red Cross starts blood tests
# 27 May 2020 00:10 (UTC +04:00)

Italy on Tuesday reported 78 more fatalities from the novel coronavirus, bringing the death toll to 32,955, as the Italian Red Cross started to conduct voluntary blood tests to search for antibodies to the virus, APA reports quoting Reuters.

The low increase in deaths registered on Tuesday confirms the slowing trend in the virus outbreak, showing that the peak of the crisis has been left behind.

The tally of active infections fell again, by 2,358, placing the total at 52,942.

Meanwhile, recoveries continued to climb, reaching 144,658, as more patients left intensive care, easing pressure on Italy's strained healthcare system.

The northern Lombardy region remains the epicenter of the pandemic, with victims rising to 15,896, almost half of the total.

The Italian Red Cross on Monday started contacting people to carry out 150,000 blood tests for antibodies to the new coronavirus, in a bid to learn about people who may have recovered from the virus without ever realizing they had it.

Participation in the test is not obligatory, but – given the country's epidemiological situation – is needed, experts said.

People selected will be contacted by phone by Red Cross regional centers to arrange an appointment for a blood test to be taken at a local lab. The test can also be done at home if the person is fragile or vulnerable.

If the test is positive, the person will be quarantined at home and contacted by the regional health service to undergo a swab test and verify whether they are contagious.

The Red Cross, however, said on Tuesday that out of 7,300 calls, only 25% of the people contacted agreed to take the test, while over 60% asked to be contacted later, and 15% said they were still evaluating the option.

Health Minister Roberto Speranza issued a call for Italians to voluntarily take the test, stressing its importance in the fight against the virus.