In the absence of detailed data and testing, it is impossible to know exactly how many deaths in elderly care homes may be due to Covid-19 or to other causes like seasonal influenza or pneumonia.

A medical staffer gestures after performing swabs for coronavirus in the Santa Cecilia nursing home in Civitavecchia, near Rome, April 17, 2020.
A medical staffer gestures after performing swabs for coronavirus in the Santa Cecilia nursing home in Civitavecchia, near Rome, April 17, 2020. (AP)

Italian prosecutors are investigating hundreds of deaths from coronavirus in the country’s nursing homes, considering criminal charges for health officials accused of being responsible for the elderly victims’ deaths.

The possible charges for the health managers involved in the probe are culpable epidemic and multiple culpable homicides, Italian media reported.

Thousands of family members and relatives of the Covid-19 victims have joined the Facebook page “NOI Denunceremo” (We will denounce), where magistrates are also looking for testimonies.

The group was created by Luca Fusco, the son of a man who died from coronavirus in Bergamo, the city in the northern Lombardy region which has been worst-hit by the virus outbreak.

According to Italy’s health authorities, at least 1,800 people died in nursing homes in Lombardy. However, it is still unknown how many were killed by Covid-19, as many were never tested for it.

Prosecutors have started specific probes into deaths at several nursing homes, and tax police have seized documents at Milan’s historic nursing home Pio Albergo Trivulzio, where over 1,000 elderly residents lived.

The Trivulzio case came in the spotlight after 150 health workers wrote a letter accusing the management of being aware of the possible dangers for the elderly residents and not having acted to protect them.

Health workers openly complained about the scarcity of protection equipment and the fact that patients with virus symptoms were not even isolated. At least 190 residents have died at the Trivulzio nursing home.

Lombardy’s governor Attilio Fontana came under huge pressure to shed light over the nursing house deaths. But he claimed that the technicians of the local sanitary agencies were the ones who allowed the fatal transfer of Covid-19 patients from hospitals to elderly homes, putting the most fragile patients at risk.

Silvio Brusaferro, the head of Italy’s Superior Health Institute, recently said that the "carnage" in nursing homes across Italy had claimed 7,000 victims since February, of which at least 40 percent died from coronavirus.

Source: AA