Italy’s coronavirus crisis has now killed 37 doctors while more than 6,000 medical workers have been infected, it emerged today.
Three more doctors died of coronavirus yesterday, in Bergamo, Foggia and Naples, the Italian Federation of Medical Professionals said, bringing the total to 37.
The head of an Italian research institute said today that 6,205 health workers had caught the disease – 8.3 per cent of Italy’s 74,376 total infections.
‘What we face every day is a real war bulletin. Doctors and their families mourn their dead,’ said Filippo Anelli, president of the doctors’ federation.
Two doctors wearing masks and white protective suits treat a patient in an intensive care unit at the Istituto Clinico Casalpalocco in Rome today
Medical professionals work on a coronavirus ward at a hospital in Rome today, as a doctors’ federation revealed that 37 medics had died of the disease
The doctors’ federation has warned that the true death toll may be higher because ‘many doctors die suddenly, even if the cause of death is not directly attributable to the virus, because the swab is not carried out.’
On top of that, at least one nurse is believed to have killed herself after being infected with coronavirus and fearing she had spread the disease to others.
Daniela Trezzi, 34, had been working on the front line of the coronavirus crisis at a hospital in Lombardy, the worst-affected region of Italy.
The National Federation of Nurses of Italy confirmed her death and expressed its ‘pain and dismay’ in a statement earlier this week.
The nursing group also revealed that ‘a similar episode had happened a week ago in Venice, with the same underlying reasons’.
‘Each of us has chosen this profession for good and, unfortunately, also for bad: we are nurses,’ the federation said.
‘The condition and stress to which our professionals are subjected is under the eyes of all.’
Many Italian hospitals have been overwhelmed by the scale of the crisis and are facing shortages of ventilators and other medical supplies.
Thousands of medics falling sick has taken them away from the front line when they are desperately needed.
Nino Cartabellotta, the head of the Gimbe foundation which is gathering data on the number of infected medics, urged that this ‘phenomemon’ must be ‘curbed to safeguard those who take care of us’.
As well as hospital doctors and general practitioners, the dead include dentists, psychiatrists and an ophthalmologist.
An Italian soldier holds his weapon while wearing gloves and a face mask as police and the army guard access to the town of Nerola today
A man wearing protective gear sprays disinfectant over an army truck near the cemetery in Bergamo, which has been unable to cope with the number of deaths
Doctors stand over the bed of a coronavirus patient in Rome, in a country where hospitals have been facing medical shortages because of the crisis
There has been similarly grave news in the church, where priests who comfort the sick and preside over funerals are exposing themselves to the virus.
‘A priest is always close to the people. For good or bad, it’s his raison d’etre,’ said Monsignor Giulio Dellavite, secretary-general of the diocese of Bergamo.
More than 7,000 people have been infected by Covid-19 in the city and province of Bergamo, and priests have not been spared.
Of the 67 Italian priests who have died of the virus, more than 20 have come from Bergamo, including a bishop, according to the Catholic newspaper Avvenire.
But Giuseppe Locatelli, the priest of the parish in Albino, also in the province of Bergamo, says he has no plans to renounce his ministry.
‘Priests are on the second line. Doctors and nurses are on the front line with the risks they take every day. We take fewer risks,’ Locatelli said.
He recently blessed a man on his death bed, he said, ‘because it was a special circumstance,’ with only the ailing man’s wife and handicapped son at home.
‘They were alone,’ Locatelli said.
The youngest priest known to have died from the virus is Alessandro Brignone, from the diocese of Salerno, south of Naples. He was 45.
Doctors treat coronavirus patients in an intensive care unit in Rome today. More than 6,200 medics have been infected with the flu-like illness
An armed Italian soldier looks on as a woman walks towards a vehicle in the town of Nerola today. The town, around 30 miles north of Rome, has been designated as a ‘red zone’
The latest national figures for Italy showed 7,503 deaths and 74,376 deaths as of Wednesday evening.
There have been some signs that the rate of increase is slowing, but prime minister Giuseppe Conte’s national lockdown is expected to last well into April.
‘History will judge us,’ the Italian leader told parliament on Wednesday.
‘We must all contribute to the common good,’ Conte said. ‘The government has acted with the utmost determination and speed.’
The World Health Organization’s deputy director Ranieri Guerra sounded positive notes about the most recent figures.
‘The slowdown in the growth rate is extremely positive,’ Guerra told Italy’s Capitale radio.
‘I think the measures taken are absolutely correct – perhaps with a certain delay at the start, but that is understandable.’
The government-run National Research Council said 57 out of Italy’s 107 provinces have already hit their peak of the virus spread.
The numbers are improving ‘and the containment measures are delivering the desired effect, even if we are in the initial phase of the slowdown,’ the research council said.