Italy: 18 bodies ordered to be exhumed amid probe into care home's handling of COVID-19 crisis

Italy: 18 bodies ordered to be exhumed amid probe into care home's handling of COVID-19 crisis

Prosecutors in Italy have ordered that the bodies of 18 elderly people be exhumed amid a probe into a care home's handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

The move is linked to an investigation into suspected COVID-19 deaths in Montecchio Emilia, among the worst-hit towns in the northern province of Reggio Emilia.

The bodies have been ordered to be exhumed so autopsies can be performed

Investigators want to establish whether these deaths were the result of any negligence. They suspect that the coronavirus outbreak in the care home may have started when an elderly person was taken there after being infected in hospital.

According to ANSA news agency, five people are under investigation in relation to the case, including the local parish priest and the director of the care home. All have denied any wrongdoing.

Around 3,800 people are known to have died from COVID-19 in care homes across Italy but the total could be even higher because many residents have not been tested.

Approximately 600 care homes are currently under investigation in the country over their handling of the coronavirus pandemic and this is one of the most recent ones.

Meanwhile, new coronavirus clusters are surfacing across Italy, including in Rome, where more than 120 cases have been confirmed in one of the capital’s hospitals. Prosecutors are now looking into how an outbreak could have started in the facility, where protocols are normally very strict.

Sicily's governor also said on Wednesday that 28 migrants who were rescued at sea had tested positive for the coronavirus. The migrants were being held on a ship off Porto Empedocle.

Sicily Governor Nello Musumeci said in a Facebook post that the positive tests confirmed he was right to demand special at-sea quarantine measures for migrants, in order to prevent new infection clusters in the country.

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