Convoy of Italian army trucks haul away corpses as crematoriums struggle to cope with deaths

The Italian city of Bergamo, one of the worst-hit by the coronavirus outbreak, is having to transport its dead out of the city as its crematorium is struggling to cope. 

It comes as Italy recorded more total virus deaths than China, at 3,405 – a rise of 427 on Wednesday.

The true number of related deaths could be higher as many people with COVID-19 symptoms had died before being tested.

“It is clear that the crematoriums could not stand up to the numbers of the past few days.”

Once the bodies have been cremated, the ashes will be brought back to Bergamo.

Reuters journalists witnessed two funerals per hour, over a period of six hours, on Monday.

Coffins have already filled up two hospital mortuaries and a cemetery morgue.

 A doctor working in a Bergamo hospital issued a stark warning that the “message of the danger of what is happening” was not reaching people.

In a Facebook post, Dr Daniele Macchini said:

“The situation is now nothing short of dramatic. No other words come to mind.

“The war has literally exploded and the battles are uninterrupted day and night.”

“After thinking for a long time if and what to write about what is happening to us, I felt that the silence was not at all responsible.”

He said he understood “the need not to create panic” but felt “the message of the danger of what is happening” was not reaching people.

The doctor said he “shuddered” at the thought of people complaining about not being able to go to the gym or football games.

“At first all this rapid transformation brought in the corridors of the hospital an atmosphere of surreal silence and emptiness that we still did not understand, waiting for a war that was yet to begin and that many (including me) were not so sure would ever come with such ferocity.”

“The situation is now nothing short of dramatic. No other words come to mind.

“The war has literally exploded and the battles are uninterrupted day and night.”

“Let’s stop saying it’s a bad flu.”.

“In these two years I have learned that the people of Bergamo do not come to the emergency room for nothing. They behaved properly this time too. They followed all the indications given: a week or ten days at home with a fever without going out and risking contagion, but now they can’t take it anymore.”

“They can’t breathe enough, they need oxygen.”

“One after the other, the departments that had been emptied are filling up at an impressive rate”.

“The display boards with the names of the patients, in different colours depending on the operating unit they belong to, are now all red and instead of the surgical operation there is the diagnosis, which is always the same damned one: bilateral interstitial pneumonia.”

He also stressed the virus does not just affect old people, warning that younger people “end up intubated in intensive care” or “worse in ECMO (a machine for the worst cases, which extracts the blood, re-oxygenates it and returns it to the body, waiting for the organism, hopefully, heal your lungs).

He bitterly scorned people “on social networks who pride themselves on not being afraid and ignoring the rules, complaining because their normal lifestyle habits are ‘temporarily’ in crisis – all the while an epidemiological disaster is taking place”.

“And there are no more surgeons, urologists, orthopaedists – we are only doctors who suddenly become part of a single team to face this tsunami that has swept us all”.

“The cases multiply, we arrive at the rate of 15-20 hospitalisations a day all for the same reason. The results of the swabs now come one after the other: positive, positive, positive.

“Suddenly the emergency room is collapsing.”

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