Andrea Crisanti and Antonio Cassone in The Guardian:
It’s now about one month since Covid-19 began to sweep across Italy. With more than total cases topping 40,000 as of 19 March, it is now the worst-affected country outside of China.
But in the last two weeks, a promising pilot study here has produced results that may be instructive for other countries trying to control coronavirus. Beginning on 6 March , along with researchers at the University of Padua and the Red Cross, we tested all residents of Vò, a town of 3,000 inhabitants near Venice – including those who did not have symptoms. This allowed us to quarantine people before they showed signs of infection and stop the further spread of coronavirus. In this way, we eradicated coronavirus in under 14 days.
While we believe it is too late to enact this approach in a city such as Milan, where infections are out of control, there could still be time to do this in the UK before the crisis gets even worse: the government could identify and isolate clusters, quarantine everyone affected, trace their recent contacts, and quarantine and isolate them, too – whether they had symptoms or not.