Codogno city in Italy's Lombardy region Photograph:( Reuters )
As per the medical records, the patient was discharged on 17 February. This is four days before Italy’s first locally transmitted infection was confirmed in Codogno, a Lombardy town south of Milan
Italian prosecutors are now examining evidence that suggests coronavirus was spreading in the country weeks before the first case of local transmission was officially detected.
Lawyers who are are representing the families of COVID-19 victims say that the medical records of a man in his 50s who was admitted to a hospital with bilateral pneumonia at the end of January 2020 in Bergamo, “could change the timeline of the pandemic in Italy”.
Consuelo Locati, representing families in two legal cases, was quoted by The Guardian, saying, "The impact of this possible negligence is that many deaths could have been avoided. And if this was a choice that came from high up, like a political choice, it would mean people were killed by politics more so than the virus".
As per the medical records, the patient was discharged on 17 February. This is four days before Italy’s first locally transmitted infection was confirmed in Codogno, a Lombardy town south of Milan.
Before this case, two Chinese tourists from Wuhan, who arrived in Milan on January 23 before being hospitalised in Rome a week later, had been the only confirmed COVID-19 patients in Italy.
During the diagnosis in Codogno, COVID-19 testing was only for those who had travelled to China within the 14 days before initial symptoms. However, according to guidelines published by the health ministry on January 22, 2020, testing was also supposed to be done on those “with an unusual and unexpected clinical course, especially if followed by an abrupt deterioration despite adequate treatments, irrespective of their place of residence or travel history”.
Locati said she is convinced the evidence gathered so far represents “solid proof of systemic negligence”.
She added, "And [the medical records] show how coronavirus might have spread undetected for at least one month in Italy due to a lack of compliance with the guidelines on epidemiological surveillance".