A senior Italian doctor has said the COVID-19 coronavirus is losing its potency and has become much less lethal than what it was a few months ago.
“In reality, the virus clinically no longer exists in Italy,” said Alberto Zangrillo, director of intensive care at the San Raffaele Hospital in Milan in the northern region of Lombardy, which has borne the brunt of Italy’s coronavirus contagion.
“The swabs that were performed over the last 10 days showed a viral load in quantitative terms that was absolutely infinitesimal compared to the ones carried out a month or two months ago.”
Zangrillo warned some experts were too alarmist about the prospect of a second wave of infections and urged politicians to take into the new reality into account.
“We’ve got to get back to being a normal country,” he said. “Someone has to take responsibility for terrorizing the country.”
Meanwhile, Matteo Bassetti, head of the infectious diseases clinic at the San Martino hospital in Genoa, said he was also seeing the coronavirus weaken.
“The strength the virus had two months ago is not the same strength it has today,” he said. “It is clear that today the COVID-19 disease is different.”
However, Italy’s Health Ministry’s called for caution.
“Pending scientific evidence to support the thesis that the virus has disappeared … I would invite those who say they are sure of it not to confuse Italians,” Sandra Zampa, an undersecretary at the health ministry, said in a statement.
“We should instead invite Italians to maintain the maximum caution, maintain physical distancing, avoid large groups, to frequently wash their hands and to wear masks.”
Italy has suffered the third highest death toll in the world from cases related to COVID-19, with 33,415 people dying since 21st February. However, new infections, hospitalisations and fatalities have declined steadily in May and Italy has now started easing its lockdown restrictions.