A look inside Italy reveals a nation still getting a handle on the coronavirus outbreak even as the nation has seen two days of declining new cases.
A situation report provided by the World Health Organization's most recent official numbers out of Italy has more than 59,000 official cases and nearly 5,500 deaths primarily due to local transmission between residents. However, other data suggests total cases are closer to 64,000 with over 6,000 deaths. In all, the Mediterranean country makes up 45 percent of Europe’s reported cases and 79 percent of the continent’s total deaths, according to an update provided by WHO European Region. The hardest hit is the northern Italian region of Lombardy, where around half of all Italian cases and deaths have occurred.
An Italian anesthesiologist writing in The New York Times opinion section calls the increase in cases “astounding”.
“The patients who arrive remain for many days, straining medical resources. Already across northern Italy – in Lombardy, Veneto, Emilia-Romagna, and Marche – health care systems are under enormous stress. Medical workers are exhausted. As the virus spreads, other regions will soon find themselves in the same situation,” writes Marco Pavesi.
Italy has the second-highest number of coronavirus cases after China, though aggressive lockdown measures in place since March 9 appear to be working. On Monday, Italy’s Civil Protection Agency reported just 4,789 new cases, which is 700 less than the 5,560 cases reported the previous day, according to the Associated Press. Though it's too early to tell if trends will continue, the day-to-day death count has fallen as well, from 651 deaths on Sunday to just over 600 deaths the following day.
Globally, the pandemic continues to spread with total confirmed cases reaching nearly 400,000 and deaths over 17,400, though the data is changing by the hour based on information presented by the Johns Hopkins live map.
Here is a look inside Italy as residents, healthcare workers, and government officials continue to grapple with the onset of the coronavirus.
Military Presence Assists With Transporting The Deceased
Italians took to social media last week when more than a dozen army convoy trucks were seen driving through the streets of Bergamo, transporting around 60 coffins to a nearby city after the local crematorium was overrun.
“The crematorium in Bergamo, working flat out on a 24-hour basis, can cremate 25 deceased persons. It’s clear that it could not handle the numbers seen in the past few days,” the city government reportedly told national newspaper Corrier Della Sera. The claims were verified and fact-checked by Snopes.com.
Lacking Supplies and Exhausted Healthcare Workers
Images of healthcare employees wearing face guards and respirator masks while working around-the-clock highlight the need for more supplies as hospital rooms continue to house new patients. Companies like Bayer are committing to donate money and supplies to help offset the cost of much-needed medical products.
“Our colleagues in Italy are working with unbelievable commitment to maintaining the supply of our medicines. On top of that, our emergency aid is designed to help support hospitals and hospital staff during the crisis,” said Werner Baumann, Chairman of the Board of Management of Bayer AG, in a statement.
Meanwhile, doctors from other countries have come to Italy to show support and help with treatment efforts.
A "Tsunami" Of Patients Overwhelm Facilities
Others report people suffering from COVID-19 waiting on the streets because the hospitals are overwhelmed. An NBC report notes that the hospital in Cremona, east of Milan, has run out of space to store bodies and has been forced to keep them in a nearby church.
Not All Heroes Wear Capes
Some wear dinosaur costumes while taking out the trash.
Others sing from their balconies to uplift their neighbors, inspiring similar feel-good movements around the world.