Italy’s ‘Patient One’ Forced to Wait 36 Hours Before Being Tested for Coronavirus

An Italian Army soldier talks with a driver at a cordoned areas' check-point, few kilometers from the small town of Castiglione d'Adda, southeast of Milan, on February 27, 2020 amid fears over the spread of the novel Coronavirus. - The number of COVID-19 infections in Italy, the hardest hit country …
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Italy’s “patient one” was forced to wait 36 hours before he was tested for Coronavirus at a hospital, potentially losing the nation precious time in preventing the spread of the virus.

Hospital staff did not prioritize Patient One because he had not recently been to China, according to a report by Corriere della Sera. Thus, Patient One — identified as “Mattia” — had to wait 36 hours before finally being tested for the coronavirus.

The report added that during those 36 hours, Mattia had made contact with hospital staff, family, and friends — all of who may have gone on to spread the virus.

Nurses who are at risk of having been infected have been called back into service at the hospital, reports Corriere della Sera.

While Mattia has been labelled as ‘patient one’, being the earliest infected person in Italy, the country has yet to discover who ‘patient zero’ — the first individual to bring Coronaviruis into Italy, starting the spread of the infection from there — is. It is possible patient one caught Coronaviruis from patient zero, but that is yet to be proven.

Given half of Italy’s regions now have reported cases of the virus, successfully tracking down patient zero — essential to help slow the spread of the disease — could be a mammoth task.

The hospital involved in the Mattia case is reported to be Codogno Hospital in Lombardy, Italy, the most heavily infected region in Italy, with 305 confirmed coronavirus cases as of Thursday afternoon, according to La Repubblica.

Mattia — who had symptoms similar to over half of the confirmed cases in the 11 municipalities around Codogno — arrived at the emergency room for the second time at 3:12 a.m. on February 19. The test was finally done around 4:00 p.m. on February 20.

Prime Minister Conte blamed the spread of the virus on the hospital, which he said “did not follow protocol,” and has thus contributed to the spread of the coronavirus in the nation, which ended up spreading abroad from Italy.

The Councilor for Health Giulio Gallera, however, maintains that Codogno Hospital did, in fact, follow protocol, reports Corriere della Sera.

The report added that the January 22 guidelines provided by the Ministry of Health said that the virus should be tested for if “a person who experiences an unusual or unexpected clinical course, especially a sudden deterioration despite adequate treatment.”

A new version of the guidelines edited on January 27, however, had removed that sentence so that only those who have recently been to China would be subjected to the testing.

“It is wrong to say that everything went well that night because it is not the truth,” said an unidentified man from inside the hospital — who preferred to remain anonymous — according to Corriere della Sera.

“Maybe the management of that night could have gone better,” he added. “We try to learn from mistakes.”

As of 1:00 p.m. Central European Standard Time, Italy has seen 528 confirmed coronavirus cases and fourteen deaths, according to the latest from La Repubblica, which added that 42 people have been “healed.”

You can follow Alana Mastrangelo on Twitter at @ARmastrangelo, and on Instagram.

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