Coronavirus Patient Identified in Florence

A 65-year-old businessman, owner of a company in Asia, has tested positively for Coronavirus in Florence during the night of February 24.

The man went to the Santa Maria Nuova emergency room in downtown Florence on the afternoon of February 24.  When it was confirmed that he has Coronavirus (Covid-19), in addition to pulmonary fibrosis, he was immediately transferred to the infectious disease ward of the Ponte a Niccheri hospital in Bagno a Ripoli.  Hospital rooms in Santa Maria Nuova were temporarily closed and disinfected, and the doctors there are currently being examined.

The businessman flew to Florence from Singapore in mid-January.  It is unclear whether he was exposed to the virus there or was infected by one of his Asian employees in Italy.

Another case has just been identified in Pescia, in the province of Pistoia.  The man recently arrived from Codogno in the province of Lodi, which has been isolated as a Coronavirus hotspot since February 24. He barricaded himself at home until the test, like the patient in Florence, resulted positive and revealed a mild infection.

In the meantime, the Tuscan government has authorized tents in front of all hospitals in region to assess and prioritize patients who suspect they may have the Coronavirus and come in to be examined.  In case of need, hospital personnel there will provide masks — 600,000 have been ordered.  Hospital labs have been working 24/7 and until the first identified patients, 58 tests were negative.

The Tuscan government has made an official request to the Chinese consulate for the list of names of 700 garment workers — 500 in Prato and 200 in Florence — who would like to return to the region after the temporary closure of factories where they were employed in China.  Many don’t have housing, and authorities are determined to prevent a health emergency.

The Region of Tuscany has also issued an official ordinance in view of the Coronavirus cases reported in northern Italy: family doctors must now be available to receive calls from any of their patients 12 hours a day, seven days a week, from 8 am to 8 pm.  Those who might be affected by flu symptoms such as fever, sore throat and cough, must stay home and call their family doctor.

Tuscan residents who have returned from China in the last 14 days must immediately phone a local health department in the area where they live: Asl Toscana center (Florence, Prato, Pistoia, Empoli): 055 5454777;  Asl Toscana northwest (Pisa, Livorno, Lucca, Massa Carrara, Viareggio): 050 954444; Asl Toscana southeast (Arezzo, Grosseto, Siena): 800 579579.  The service, in Italian and Chinese, is active between 8 am and 8 pm.

Those coming from other countries with Coronavirus patients, or who believe they might be infected, must immediately call one of the medical hotlines: 1500, operative 24/7 or 800.55.6060 from Monday to Friday from 9 am to 3 pm.  (rosanna cirigliano)

To read more in Italian, visit Florence’s La Repubblica news site.