An Italian man who was anxious to obtain a Covid passport but did not want to have the actual jab tried to trick medics by turning up at a vaccination centre with a false arm made of silicon.
The man, who like a small but vocal minority of Italians objected to the vaccination, arrived at the medical centre in the town of Biella in Piedmont on Thursday night.
He had been booked in for his first dose of the vaccination, making him a laggard in comparison with the 85 per cent of Italians aged over 12 who have had two jabs and are now looking to obtain their booster jabs.
But when the man, aged in his fifties, rolled up his sleeve, the medical orderly began to suspect that all was not as it should have been.
The skin of his arm seemed unusually smooth and a slightly strange colour.
The medic quickly realised that the arm was a fake limb, albeit a sophisticated one made of silicon.
The man appealed to the medic to turn a blind eye and give him a jab in his fake limb.
She refused. He was reported to police and magistrates and now faces prosecution.
"The case borders on the ridiculous, if it were not for the fact we are talking about a gesture of enormous gravity," the governor of Piedmont, Albert Cirio, said in a statement on Facebook.
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The attempted deceit was "unacceptable faced with the sacrifice that our entire community has paid during the pandemic, in terms of human lives, the social and economic cost."
Filippa Bua, the nurse who rumbled the ruse, said: “In just a few moments it went from a normal situation, to one that was a bit embarrassing, and then shock and incredulity.
“When I rolled up his sleeve, I felt his ‘skin’ to be rubbery and cold. At first, I thought that he had had an amputation and that by mistake he had offered the wrong arm to be jabbed. I felt bad for him, I thought I’d put him in an embarrassing situation.”
But then she realised that the arm was fake. “I understood in an instant that the man that I had in front of me was trying to avoid the vaccination by using a silicon prosthesis that he hoped that I would inject with the shot.”
She informed a doctor what had happened. “The man smiled, then left. He wasn’t discourteous or rude; he just got up and left.”
Increasingly stringent measures adopted by the government are making life for the non-vaccinated harder and harder in Italy, although the country has not yet made vaccination obligatory.
Since August, a Green Pass showing proof of vaccination, recent recovery from coronavirus or a negative test has been required for dining in restaurants, to visit museums and cinemas and to go to sports events.
But from Monday, these activities will be restricted to holders of a “Super Green Pass”, which is only available to those who have been vaccinated or recently had Covid-19.
The unvaccinated will still be able to go to work – as long as they test regularly, an expensive and onerous requirement.