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On the 21st of February 2020 a resident of the municipality of Vo, a small town near Padua, died of pneumonia due to SARS-CoV-2 infection. This was the first COVID-19 death detected in Italy since the emergence of SARS-CoV-2 in the Chinese city of Wuhan, Hubei province. In response, the regional authorities imposed the lockdown of the whole municipality for 14 days. We collected information on the demography, clinical presentation, hospitalization, contact network and presence of SARS-CoV-2 infection in nasopharyngeal swabs for 85.9% and 71.5% of the population of Vo at two consecutive time points. On the first survey, which was conducted around the time the town lockdown started, we found a prevalence of infection of 2.6% (95% confidence interval (CI) 2.1-3.3%). On the second survey, which was conducted at the end of the lockdown, we found a prevalence of 1.2% (95% CI 0.8-1.8%). Notably, 43.2% (95% CI 32.2-54.7%) of the confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infections detected across the two surveys were asymptomatic. The mean serial interval was 6.9 days (95% CI 2.6-13.4). We found no statistically significant difference in the viral load (as measured by genome equivalents inferred from cycle threshold data) of symptomatic versus asymptomatic infections (p-values 0.6 and 0.2 for E and RdRp genes, respectively, Exact Wilcoxon-Mann-Whitney test). Contact tracing of the newly infected cases and transmission chain reconstruction revealed that most new infections in the second survey were infected in the community before the lockdown or from asymptomatic infections living in the same household. This study sheds new light on the frequency of asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection and their infectivity (as measured by the viral load) and provides new insights into its transmission dynamics, the duration of viral load detectability and the efficacy of the implemented control measures.

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