The government's scientific technical committee (CTS), which advises on Covid-19 rules, on Tuesday evening gave the plan the green light to go ahead nationally.
“With the increase in cases and the opening of schools we need to do more and get results faster,” Health Minister Roberto Speranza told the Senate health committee earlier on Tuesday.
“This can help us to maintain the advantage, from the point of view of the number of infections, that we have today over other countries.”
Health authorities in the Lazio region had already confirmed they will start using the tests in some schools from Thursday.
The rapid antigen tests (‘test antigene’ or ‘test antigenico’, or sometimes just ‘tampone rapido’, ‘fast swab’), currently used in airports, are carried out with a cotton nasal swab, much like the “normal” tests which take 24-48 hours to give a result. The difference is in the method of ascertaining the presence of the virus and above all in the timing: with rapid tests the response arrives in 20-30 minutes.
These are the tests being used for mass screening of passengers at airports, stations and ferry terminals in Italy, but it’s important to know that they are less accurate than a PCR test.
You can read more about the airport testing process and different testing options available in a separate article here.
it is hoped that wider testing and faster results could help slow the spread of the virus in Italy, as new case numbers start to rise sharply in some areas such as in Naples and other parts of Campania
“The tests are improving week on week,” Speranza said
.He added that it will be months yet before Italy has a safe and effective vaccine for the coronavirus.
“We have many more weapons than we had in March and April, in a few months we will have even more,” he said, stressing that the governments plans were “validated by science”.
Currently parents in Italy report having to keep children off school for several days while arranging for a test with local health authorities if their child is sent home with suspect symptoms, or if a classmate tests positive.
While the waiting time for a test is not usually very long, parents in most regions must currently obtain a health certificate confirming the negative result before the child can return to school.
650 classes in Italy have been sent home due to confirmed coronavirus cases so far since reopening began on September 14th, according to Turin-based Economics researcher Lorenzo Ruffino, who calculated the likely numbers by analyzing Italian media reports.
When a case is confirmed at a school, Italian health authorities send the entire class and teacher home for 14 days, as well as any other students or staff who may have been in contact with the infected person. Schools are also often shut down for one day for extra cleaning, though so far there are few reports of schools being closed down for longer than that.
The government's scientific technical committee (CTS), which advises on Covid-19 rules, on Tuesday gave the plan the green light to go ahead nationally.