Top Italian Epidemiologist: New Coronavirus Cases No Cause for Panic

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ROME — The president of the Italian Society of Anti-infection Therapy (SITA) said Thursday that while new positive tests for coronavirus are appearing in Italy, numbers in intensive care units (ICU) are “constantly decreasing” and most new cases are asymptomatic and “healthy.”

Dr. Matteo Bassetti, who is also the director of Infectious Diseases at the San Martino Hospital in Genoa, said that people need to look beyond the number of “new cases,” which are the least important of the data emerging on the coronavirus.

“The data released yesterday by the Ministry of Health tells us that those hospitalized in ICU (48) and other hospital departments are constantly decreasing,” Dr. Bassetti noted. “This is in the face of an increase in the number of subjects showing positive results for SarsCov-2, that is, of subjects who are in the main asymptomatic, healthy carriers of the virus.”

“It is evident that today everything is very different from 5 months ago,” he said.

Bassetti said that these data show that “the clinical evolution of the disease has changed profoundly in the last two-three months” and is no longer “the same one we met in March.”

“Those who — like me — have been working in the hospital since the beginning of the Italian epidemic have been able to see a striking change in the virus’ ability to cause harm,” he said.

Speaking of his own experience at the Infectious Disease Clinic of the San Martino Hospital in Genoa, Bassetti said that all the data back up his position.

“We have had 323 recovered patients,” he said. “The mortality rate of hospitalized patients in the months from February to May was 11.4 percent, while the rate in June and July was zero.”

“These are numbers. Not assumptions and guesses,” he said.

Dr. Bassetti has been a sharp critic of “scaremongering” over the virus, as well as of a faction that “rejoices when there is a new outbreak or a new hospitalization, to show that we should all still be locked up in our homes.”


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