A man has died after attending a coronavirus party to become infected with the virus. Several others, who were at these gatherings, have been sent to the emergency ward after catching the disease.
Discover our latest podcast
The 55-year-old man reportedly died in Austria last week after testing positive for Covid-19. He had earlier attended an event in the city of Bolzano in South Tyrol, northern Italy.
Reports suggest that at least three other people, including a child, have been hospitalized in the Alpine region after catching the virus at similar events.
Italian health officials have cause to believe that the deceased and the patients are anti-vaxxers who deliberately expose themselves to the virus, so they could become infected and obtain a green pass.
Like many other countries in Europe, Italy requires the green pass for work and leisure, and it can be obtained through vaccination or by recovering from infection within the previous six months.
Patrick Franzoni, co-ordinator of the anti-Covid unit in Bolzano, told Italian newspaper Il Dolomiti:
We have received more than one account from doctors of patients who admitted to having been infected on purpose. [They do this] to develop antibodies, and to obtain the green pass without vaccination.
Dangerous and Foolhardy
According to Dr Franzoni, organizers of these gatherings operate by identifying at least one person who has Covid and ensuring that other attendees deliberately come into close contact with them by hugging, kissing and sharing drinks.
He explained how dangerous this was, as between five and 10 people can become infected in one night if they are together in the same room.
There are long-term consequences and even young people can end up in hospital.
Police in Bolzano have launched an investigation into the so-called ‘corona-parties’ which are thought to be widespread in Austria and Germany.