Covid-19: without cases, the Italian island of Giglio intrigues scientists

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In Italy, the island of Giglio baffles scientists. Although the Covid-19 epidemic is unleashed worldwide and Italy has been and continues to be massively affected, the island still does not register any case of island origin, despite the comings and goings of the inhabitants.

All of Europe is polluted. All? No, an Italian island always resists the coronavirus. In Italy, there is talk of the island of Giglio, famous for the sinking of the Costa Concordia in 2012. While Italy has more than 246,200 cases and more than 35,100 deaths, the island of Giglio, located less than 200 km northwest of Rome has no Covid-19 cases or deaths. However, as an Associated Press report indicates on the MedicalXpress website, almost all conditions were in place for the epidemic to spread to the island as soon as the virus had settled.

The first known case of Covid-19 from Giglio Island was a man in his 60s who landed on the island on February 18. The man came to Giglio for a relative's funeral and "coughed all the time," said Paula Muti. The man took the ferry back to the mainland and died in hospital three weeks later.

On March 5, four days before the declaration announcing the containment of Italy, three more visitors from the continent tested positive on the island. One of them, a German from northern Italy, then the epicenter of the epidemic in Europe, spent several days with longtime friends in Giglio and frequented restaurants. After a week, due to a severe cough, he was examined on the island and the result was positive. The man was placed in solitary confinement on the island. Other imported cases of this type have multiplied, but the virus does not spread among the islanders.

According to reports, only one person on the island was exposed to Sars-CoV-2.

In late April, before travel conditions relaxed, tests were carried out on the inhabitants of Giglio. Of the 800 residents per year, 723 volunteered for the test. Verdict: Only one inhabitant had antibodies against the virus, a sign of recent contact with a sick person, in this case the German mentioned above.

According to Paula Muti, who continues her investigations, the islanders may not have been exposed to a sufficient viral load to become infected.

It could also be that some people are more polluting than others, or that the opportunity has done it right here. However, a genetic variant that protects the island's population cannot be ruled out either, since other European islands with little exposure to the virus have experienced more cases.

Let us cite, for example, Belle-Île-en-mer (Morbihan), where four cases have been discovered, or Île-d'Yeu, which is concerned about the spread of sars-CoV-2 and will launch a major operation.

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