London

Coronavirus: Teenager 'could have survived with appropriate treatment'

Luca Di Nicola (R), 19, with his 23-year-old brother Davide Image copyright Davide di Nicola
Image caption Luca Di Nicola (pictured here on the right with his brother Davide) died about 30 minutes after going into A&E

A “healthy” teenager who died after developing coronavirus could have been saved if he had been diagnosed earlier, according to Italian authorities.

Luca Di Nicola, 19, from the town of Nereto in eastern Italy, died at the North Middlesex Hospital in north London on 24 March.

According to Italian newspaper La Repubblica, he developed a cough and a fever a week before dying but his condition was dismissed as a cold.

The NHS has been asked to comment.

A spokesperson for the hospital said in a statement a 19-year-old man had “very sadly” died “soon after” arriving at A&E. He tested positive for Covid-19 after he died.

The deputy mayor of Nereto, Maria Angela Lelii, told the BBC there would be "a different conversation" had Mr Di Nicola returned to Italy for treatment.

According to La Repubblica, Mr Di Nicola’s family said the teenage chef was “extremely healthy”.

The newspaper quotes them as saying he was given paracetamol by his GP when he first developed symptoms.

His condition reportedly deteriorated on 23 March and he was visited at home by his GP, who is said to have told him, “you’re young, strong and you shouldn’t worry about this bad influenza”.

The next day the teenager reported chest pains before he collapsed, the paper reports.

'Tragedy within a tragedy'

His mother called the emergency services and he was taken into intensive care but died about half an hour later.

“To learn of Luca’s death in our small community of 5,600 souls where almost everyone knows each other was devastating, a tragedy within a tragedy," Ms Lelii told the BBC.

“That was made worse by the discovery that he tested positive for coronavirus because he could have won this battle had he had appropriate treatment," she said.

“And I state with even more conviction that had he returned to Italy, now we would be having a very different conversation.”

Mr Di Nicola's 23-year-old brother Davide paid tribute on Instagram, saying "I love you brother".

He said: "We both grew and matured and you, surely more mature than me, had the courage and the desire to bring new goals.

"Cooking, your greatest passion, would have taken you far."

Mayor of Nereto Daniele Laurenzi called on Italy's foreign affairs minister Luigi di Maio to step in to ensure a proper inquiry into Mr Di Nicola's death was carried out as a matter of "urgency".

"It is owed to the family," he said.

The hospital spokesperson said “our thoughts and condolences remain with the patients’ families and loved ones at this difficult time".