Naples residents donate coronavirus tests amid shortage

With a lack of free coronavirus tests available in the city of Naples, hundreds of residents are relying on the kindness of strangers.

Naples residents donate coronavirus tests amid shortage
Volunteers at the San Severo Fuori Le Mura church in the Rione Sanita district in Naples on November 23rd. AFP

Naples is proud of its tradition of “caffe sospeso”, where a customer pays twice for a coffee so that someone less fortunate can have one for free. Now this act of charity is being extended to coronavirus tests.

In the southern Italian city, the local health service is struggling to deal with the number of coronavirus cases and, as in many parts of italy, free coronavirus tests can be difficult to get..

At San Severo Fuori Le Mura church, in one of the most densely-populated areas of Naples, a local community organisation offers residents a chance to get a
rapid swab test and anonymously donate another.

“It's a high-risk area, because there are large family groups living in very small places, so the risk of contagion is very high,” said Angelo Melone,
head of the non-profit group that runs the initiative.

Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP

Since they started two weeks ago, 1,000 people have been tested – 300 of them benefitting from the generosity of their fellow citizens.

“We Neapolitans have a big heart, in good and in bad times we share everything,” said local resident Giuseppina Puglise, after paying for an extra swab.

The pre-booked tests cost 18 euros ($21) each and are carried out by a team of three doctors and two nurses within the airy confines of the 16th-century

The money pays for the swabs themselves and the nurses, with the others volunteering for free.

Rapid tests are readily available across Italy, the first European country to be hit by the coronavirus, where it has now recorded more than 50,000 deaths.

But they can be expensive. Such a test in a private clinic in Naples can cost between 30 and 45 euros, while a more accurate PCR test can cost 70 euros.

Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP

Antonio Campagna, a 33-year-old taxi driver with three children, has struggled in the economic crisis provoked by Italy's national lockdown earlier this year.

“I heard that there was the possibility of a free test,” he told AFP. “I would like to take advantage of this initiative, which I consider an act full of altruism.”

Italy's economy has been battered by the pandemic, and the poorer southern regions are suffering particularly badly.

Unemployment in Naples last year was already double the national average, at 23.3 percent compared to 10 percent, according to national statistics agency Istat.

Locals here feel a sense of solidarity as they face up to the inevitable tough times ahead.

After paying for an extra test, Luigi Parisi, a 32-year-old from Naples, said that helping others less fortunate was now “a civil and moral duty”.

Member comments

  1. There are many reasons I love going to Naples and the people are one of them. Have always found them helpful, warm and friendly. This is further evidence of their sense of community. Always feel very sad when Naples gets bad press, which happens way too often. Tourists don’t know what they are missing out on with bypassing this wonderful piece of Italy.

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WHO expects more monkeypox-related deaths in Europe

The World Health Organization's European office said Saturday that more monkeypox-related deaths can be expected, following reports of the first fatalities outside Africa, while stressing that severe complications were still be rare.

WHO expects more monkeypox-related deaths in Europe

“With the continued spread of monkeypox in Europe, we will expect to see more deaths,” Catherine Smallwood, Senior Emergency Officer at WHO Europe, said in a statement.

Smallwood emphasised that the goal needs to be “interrupting transmission quickly in Europe and stopping this outbreak”.

However, Smallwood stressed that in most cases the disease heals itself without the need for treatment.

“The notification of deaths due to monkeypox does not change our assessment of the outbreak in Europe. We know that although self-limiting in most cases, monkeypox can cause severe complications,” Smallwood noted.

The Spanish health ministry recorded a second monkeypox-related death on Saturday, a day after Spain and Brazil reported their first fatalities.

The announcements marked what are thought to be the first deaths linked to the current outbreak outside Africa.

Spanish authorities would not give the specific cause of death for the fatalities pending the outcome of an autopsy, while Brazilian authorities underlined that the man who died had “other serious conditions”.

“The usual reasons patients might require hospital care include help in managing pain, secondary infections, and in a small number of cases the need to manage life-threatening complications such as encephalitis,” Smallwood explained.

According to the WHO, more than 18,000 cases have been detected throughout the world outside of Africa since the beginning of May, with the majority of them in Europe.

The WHO last week declared the monkeypox outbreak a global health emergency.

As cases surge globally, the WHO on Wednesday called on the group currently most affected by the virus — men who have sex with men — to limit their sexual partners.

Early signs of the disease include a high fever, swollen lymph glands and a chickenpox-like rash.

The disease usually heals by itself after two to three weeks, sometimes taking a month.

A smallpox vaccine from Danish drug maker Bavarian Nordic, marketed under the name Jynneos in the United States and Imvanex in Europe, has also been found to protect against monkeypox.