An Italian faces fraud charges after showing up for his Covid-19 vaccine wearing a fake arm.
So determined to dodge the jab but still get a health pass, the anti-vaccine may have paid hundreds of dollars for the silicone prosthesis.
The bizarre episode at a vaccination center in Biella, a town near Turin in the northern Piedmont region, came a week after Italy announced measures banning unvaccinated people from participating in a multitude of social, cultural and sporting activities.
After completing the bureaucratic formalities including signing a consent form in front of a doctor, the man, 50, sat down and rolled up his shirt sleeve as he prepared for what a health worker administers the vaccine.
Initially, the health worker did not notice anything strange, as the silicone looked like skin. But after taking a closer look and touching the arm, the doctor asked the man to take off his shirt. His plan thwarted, the man, who was not named, then tried to persuade the health worker to close his eyes.
“I felt offended as a professional,” Filippa Bua told La Repubblica. “The color of the arm made me suspicious so I asked the man to uncover the rest of his left arm. It was well done but it was not the same color. The man said to him: “Would you have imagined that I would have such a physique?
She told La Stampa that she couldn’t see the man’s veins: “At first I thought I had made a mistake, that it was a patient with an artificial arm. .
It is not clear if he was wearing an entire fake arm or some sort of silicone layer on his skin.
“The speed and skill of the health worker have ruined the plans of this person, who will now have to answer to justice,” said Alberto Cirio, president of Piedmont, in a joint statement with Luigi Icardi, regional councilor of health.
La Repubblica suggested that the incident may not have been timely, citing a recent message on social media that could have been written by Biella’s man.
The Twitter post featured a men’s silicone half-body suit, with fake arms and neck, which was for sale on Amazon for € 488 (£ 416). Next to the image was the message: “If I go with this, will they notice?” Maybe under the silicone I’ll even put on some extra clothes to prevent the needle from reaching my real arm.
Cirio and Icardi said the matter would be “bordering on ridiculous” if it were not for “the fact that we are talking about a gesture of enormous gravity”.
“It is unacceptable in the face of the sacrifice that the pandemic makes the whole community pay,” they added.
Italy has reported a significant increase in bookings for first jabs since announcing plans for the ‘green super pass’, which takes effect nationwide from December 6 and requires people to prove they are vaccinated or have recovered from Covid-19 to access cinemas, theaters, gymnasiums, nightclubs, ski lifts and stadiums, as well as to be served indoors in bars and restaurants.