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Italian province undertakes mass testing for coronavirus

 Italy's northern Alto Adige province on Friday launched a mass coronavirus screening program, officials said.


The Alto Adige province is part of Italy's Trentino Alto Adige region, which shares a northern border with Germany and Austria.


The region has a population of just over one million, according to Jan. 1, 2019 data from the National Institute of Statistics (ISTAT).


The Alto Adige province has a population of over 530,000, and the plan is to screen 350,000 people by Sunday, local authorities said.


The province reported 11,511 positive COVID-19 cases on Friday, according to the Ministry of Health.


This compares to 3,004 new infections confirmed on Friday in the other half of the region, which has a population of over 540,000, according to ISTAT.


"The incidence of infections has reached such proportions that it has made an important joint action necessary," Alto Adige authorities said on the province's official website.


The mass screening program, which runs from Friday to Sunday, is free, voluntary and open to anyone aged five years and older.


People can get their results within 30 minutes of being tested, and anyone testing positive will have to quarantine at home for 10 days, the authorities explained.




The mass screening "can help us identify unknown sources of the infection ... in order to stop the virus from spreading further," the authorities said.


"Every single person ... can contribute to this initiative. The objective is to recover personal freedom, education and work, wherever limitations are in place. This is a great opportunity," the authorities stressed.


So far, over 82,000 people got tested and 1,256 turned out positive, according to the province's website, which is publishing a running tally.


National broadcast news channels -- including Rai News, Sky TG24 news and TGCOM24 -- showed footage of long lines of people waiting to be tested in Alto Adige, and compared the mass screening to similar initiatives taken in China and other Asian countries.


Italy is subdivided into 20 regions and has a population of about 60 million.


On Friday, 37,242 new coronavirus cases were reported by the Ministry of Health. And a total of 777,176 people across Italy were confirmed positive for the virus on Friday.


Since late February, 1,308,528 COVID-19 cases have been reported in Italy. 

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