Italian Epidemiologist: Coronavirus Has Gone from ‘Tiger’ to ‘Pussy Cat’

face mask coronavirus
Obi Onyeador via Unsplash

ROME — The once-potent coronavirus “has gone from being a tiger to a pussy cat,” according to Dr. Matteo Bassetti, director of Infectious Diseases at the San Martino Hospital in Genoa.

“This infection that was devastating three months ago now resembles a form of the flu,” writes Prof. Bassetti, who expressed concern Sunday that retaining policies of isolation for non-contagious carriers of the virus is counterproductive and “embarrassing.”

Asymptomatic cases of the virus that are emerging thanks to extensive testing should be treated differently than the once-rabid, symptomatic cases of months ago, insists Bassetti, who is also president of the Italian Society of Anti-infection Therapy (SITA).

“In Lombardy, 50 percent of swabs are now ‘weakly positive,’ with a viral load so low that the carriers are not contagious,” Bassetti notes, a phenomenon that is mirrored in the Veneto region of Italy.

Citing a recent report by the World Health Organization (W.H.O.), Bassetti said that after 3 days from the disappearance of symptoms for the symptomatic and 10 days for the asymptomatic, even if testing positive for the SarsCoV2 virus for many weeks, they are no longer contagious and therefore are not able to transmit the virus to another person.”

“Yet we are continuing to isolate all those with positive swabs at home or in the hospital, even those with very low [viral] loads, Bassetti declares, a policy that is “very wrong.”

According to the W.H.O.’s current COVID-19 fact sheet, “to date, there has been no documented asymptomatic transmission,” even though this does not exclude the possibility that it may theoretically occur.

Early reports of asymptomatic transmission of the virus were all later debunked, but only after the fear of asymptomatic carriers had taken hold in the public consciousness, leading to widespread use of masks by healthy people out of concern that they could be unwitting transmitters of the disease.

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