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15th Feb 2022

Body of drowned Ukrainian man tests positive for covid 28 times over six weeks

Kieran Galpin


Further tests were unable to be completed due to the Ukrainian man’s funeral arrangements

The body of a Ukrainian man who drowned while swimming in Italy tested positive for covid 28 times over a six week period after his death.

While swimming in the sea, the 41-year-old went missing during rough weather near the city of Chieti. Some 16-hours-later, the man’s body was found wedged between rocks, according to claims from a study published in the Journal of Medicine Case.


During a routine covid test during the autopsy, doctors at Italy’s D’Annunzio University found that the man tested positive. Over a 41-day period, 28 tests were carried out on the man’s corpse and all came back positive, with the body being stored at 4C in the morgue at Chieti Hospital.

“The present case shows the persistence of SARS-CoV-2 RNA up to 41 days after death,” the researchers from the university’s Center for Advanced Studies and Technology wrote.

“Data about its persistence are of fundamental importance for pathologists to understand when the handling of the corpse is safe, and further studies are needed to estimate the virus contagiousness.”


Further tests were unable to be completed due to the man’s funeral arrangements.

Scientists warned that this instance the “importance of postmortem swabs in all autopsy cases, and not only in potential severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2-related death.” Scientists have also emphasised the importance of long-term testing despite low initial viral loads.

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