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Year : 2022  |  Volume : 8  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 24-31

Postmortem nasopharyngeal swabs performed during the COVID-19 infection: Analysis of preliminary clinical records by the genoa institute of legal medicine (North-West Italy)

1 Department of Forensic and Legal Medicine, University of Genova, Genova, Italy
2 Department of Health Sciences, University of Genova; Department of Hygiene, San Martino Polyclinic Hospital, Genova, Italy

Correspondence Address:
Francesco Ventura
Department of Legal Medicine, University of Genova, via De' Toni 12, 16132 Genova
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/jfsm.jfsm_5_21

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COVID-19, the disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, is highly contagious. The persistence of the virus after infected individuals die remains unclear. This article reports the findings taken from postmortem nasopharyngeal swabs performed to investigate the presence of SARS-CoV-2 in the corpses transferred to the Genoa District Mortuary from the outset of the Italian lockdown (March 9) to the end of the first emergency phase (July 13). One hundred and eighty swabs were carried out: 13 corpses resulted positive for the virus, with the diagnosis being reached only after death. Seven were male and 6 female with an average age of 73.5 years old. The most frequent comorbidities recorded were arterial hypertension, diabetes, Alzheimer's, and pulmonary disease. In two cases, the swab tested positive at a distance of 125 h and 165 h from actual death. The nasopharyngeal swab results a useful way to screen corpses for COVID-19 and to handle bodies in Legal Medicine Centers where safe autoptic rooms are not available. Swabs are also a means of safeguarding forensic pathologists, identifying the presence of breeding grounds in the community and providing information for the Public Prosecutor's Office in legal cases. They are able to produce reliable results up to at least 7 days following death, provided that the corpse is correctly preserved.

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