Italy is to test 150,000 individuals, starting on Monday, to see how many people have been infected by the new Coronavirus (COVID-19) and whether that figure corresponds to official statistics.
Voluntary tests will be conducted in 2,000 locations across the country by the Public Health Ministry in collaboration with the Statistics Agency and the Red Cross.
Rome is seeking in this way to identify people who may be infected but show only slight symptoms at most.
Italy is one of the countries worst affected by the pandemic. Some 230,000 people have already tested positive for COVID-19 and the official death toll is 33,000. Experts fear the real number of deaths may be higher.
In fact, the virus appears to have been around for many weeks before it was first detected.
According to Filippo Ansaldi, an expert with the regional health authorities, the first cases may date back to 8 December in the northwestern region of Genoa.