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.
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.
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.
The latest national figures for Italy showed 7,503 deaths and 74,376 infections 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. (Mail)