What’s happening in Italy is reminiscent of scenes from medieval Europe. We’re seeing a modern society overwhelmed by disease, something we’re not likely to see again anytime soon — if ever.
The morgues in several cities are beyond capacity, and authorities have taken to burning the bodies of victims of COVID-19.
The Italian Army has started ferrying dozens of coffins from the northern city of Bergamo, the worst-hit city in Italy’s coronavirus crisis, to remote cremation sites because local morgues can’t cope with the number of new deaths.
A convoy of at least 10 military trucks was filmed passing through the city Wednesday night.
They were transporting 61 bodies to cremation sites in 12 Italian towns, including Modena and Parma, the national newspaper Corriere Della Sera reported.
A #Bergamo hanno dovuto chiamare l'esercito per caricare camion e camion di bare da destinare a crematori fuori regione. Prima di lamentarvi della proroga del #lockdown riguardatevi sto video in loop.#coronavirusitalia pic.twitter.com/ofR1raGVTb
— Alessandro Zanoni (@AlexZan87) March 19, 2020
“There are significant numbers of people who have died but whose death hasn’t been attributed to the coronavirus because they died at home or in a nursing home and so they weren’t swabbed,” he said, according to Reuters.
Mirco Nacoti, an anesthesiologist and intensive-care specialist, estimated to The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday that 60% or more of Bergamo’s population already had the coronavirus.
Italy has recorded the most coronavirus deaths and infections outside China, where the disease broke out late last year. Nearly 3,000 people in the country have died, and more than 35,000 had been infected as of Thursday morning.
Here’s another disturbing video from Sky News showing overwhelmed hospital staff trying to deal with too many critically ill patients.
The video, broadcast Thursday by Sky News from the Papa Giovanni XXIII hospital, shows an emergency-arrivals ward. It has been transformed into an intensive-care unit because the regular ICU is already full.
As of Friday morning, 4,645 people from Bergamo had tested positive for the virus, more cases than any other city or town in Italy, according to data published in the Corriere Della Sera newspaper. The exact number of deaths in Bergamo is not yet known.
People are being turned away from emergency rooms because of a lack of anywhere to put them. It’s not likely to get as bad here, but the strain on hospital resources as well as a shortage of ventilators and other critical breathing equipment is real. Hot spots like New York and California are already planning for the overflow of patients and will probably be able to cope.
But if it gets any worse than what’s anticipated, our economic crisis will seem small.