More than half a million serological (blood) tests were carried out on Italy's school staff – both teachers and non-teachers – this week as blanket testing began ahead of the planned return to school from September 14th.
Around 13,000 tested positive, equal to 2.6 percent of those tested.
This is only slightly higher than the current average 2.2 percent of positive swabs in the country.
The data was reported by Italy's coronavirus response commissioner Domenico Arcuri, who told Tg1 news: “It means that up to 13,000 potentially infected people will not return to schools, will not produce outbreaks and will not circulate the virus.”
More staff are expected to be tested in coming days and weeks, as Italy has supplied schools with around two million of the tests, Italian news agency Ansa reports. This was near half of Italy's total of 970,000 school staff – excluding the 200,000 in Rome's Lazio region, which is performing the tests independently.
The number of positive cases was not added to Italy's daily total on Thursday. Scientific experts said this is likely to be because the test were serologicial and not nasal swab tests.
On Thursday, authorities registered 1,597 new cases in 24 hours, and ten more deaths.
While the number of testing has been increasing overall in recent week, so too has the percentage of swabs coming back positive.
However the Italian government has repeatedly insisted that outbreaks can be contained at current levels.
Hospitalisations also continue to rise. 14 more patients were admitted to intensive care, for a total of 164, with 1,836 in other wards.
The number of patients in intensive care is a key figure, both for hospital capacity and for the likely future death toll.
Italy is also reportedly considering cutting the quarantine period from 14 to 10 days. The government's technical and scentific committee (CTS) is expected to make a decision on this at a meeting on Tuesday.