Introduction: A pandemic outbreak of novel coronavirus, named SARS-CoV-2 and responsible of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), has rapidly spread from China to Europe, being Northern Italy the first focus outside Asia. Little is known about the evolution of SARS-CoV-2 infection in patients undergoing surgery. Presentation of case: Here we report the first confirmed case of early postoperative SARS-CoV-2 infection in a patient recovering after Hartmann's procedure for acute diverticulitis. After an otherwise unevenful postoperative course, on post-operative day 8, the patient suddenly presented hyperpyrexia and cough, rapidly evolving to respiratory failure and death 36 h after symptoms onset. CT-scan identified bilateral, diffuse, interstitial pneumonitis and oropharyngeal swab test confirmed the presence of SARS-CoV-2. A previous contact with the partner, developing the same symptoms, remained unrecognized until ICU admission. Discussion: During a pandemic outbreak, the early identification of SARS-CoV-2 infection of an inside patient initially considered to be infection-free has a pivotal importance not only for the prompt patient's management, but also to avoid infection spreading to other patients and hospital personnel.In the reported case, a more precise information to the patient regarding the imperative necessity to inform the medical personnel of any person of his entourage presenting, at any time, any tell-tale sign, symptom or examination which may be attributed to COVID-19, may have had allowed to anticipate patient's isolation and examinations and procedures aimed at identifying such an infection. Conclusion: Persistent hyperleucocytosis and increased CRP serum level in spite of uneventful postoperative course were the only, aspecific markers of an ongoing SARS-CoV-2 infection before symptoms’ onset, and should be considered in future clinical practice in order to adopt the prompt and appropriate patient management and limit COVID-19 contagion in surgical units.
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