The situation in Italy over the continued spread of the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) is becoming more and more grim as the government with the oldest population in Europe is now struggling just to keep up with the dead.
As reported by the Sky News, Italians are dying at such high rates that the army has been called in to transport the bodies to crematoriums in long convoys of trucks:
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.
Army vehicles have been brought in to move dozens of coffins from Bergamo to other regions, according to Ansa news agency.
The wealthy city north east of Milan, in the country’s Lombardy region, has logged at least 93 deaths from the coronavirus to date, but the casualty rate is climbing rapidly. In fact, the Sky News noted, there have been more COVID-19 deaths in Italy now than in China, where the virus originated.
As of Wednesday, 3,405 people had died in Italy, a steep rise of 427 in a single day.
No wonder the army is being called in.
Giorgia Gori, the mayor of Bergamo, told Sky News that the actual number of dead from coronavirus could even be higher because many people who suffered from COVID-19 symptoms actually died before they were tested.
Now, the city — and the country — struggle to process the bodies in Medieval ways.
“The crematorium of Bergamo, working at full capacity, 24 hours a day, can cremate 25 dead,” a city spokesperson told Sky News.
“It is clear that it could not stand up to the numbers of the past few days,” hence the need to haul the bodies away in army trucks, the official noted.
Now, coffins are being transported to crematoriums in other cities including Modena, Acqui Terme, Domodossola, Parma, Piacenza, and others, Sky News reports. After the bodies are cremated, officials said the remains will be brought back to Bergamo.
Journalists with Reuters reported witnessing two funerals per hour over a period of six hours on Monday.
“Many of the deceased were unable to have funerals as the demand is too high, and instead they were taken to a chapel inside a church within the cemetery,” Sky News reported.
The British news agency notes further that coffins containing dead coronavirus victims have filled up a pair of hospital mortuaries and a cemetery morgue as well. And while relatives have been allowed to come in and pay their last respects, they can only gain access in small numbers and with the recommended amount of distance — six feet, according to the CDC — to prevent further spread of COVID-19.
The local newspaper’s obituary section, meanwhile, has expanded of late from 2-3 pages to 10 to accommodate all of the notices.
As of this writing, there are more than 14,000 diagnosed cases of coronavirus in the United States and 207 deaths, with 108 people having recovered. U.S. health officials say that the number of infected continues to double every 2.5-3 days, which is too fast, hence the reason for the mass closure of businesses like bars, restaurants, gyms and office buildings. (Related: Noted investor warns Trump if he doesn’t “shut down” entire country for 30 days due to coronavirus we will lose “America as we know it”.)
The most cases, per state, are in New York, Washington, and California (1, 2, 3 respectively), according to World Meters. The fewest are in South Dakota, Alaska, and West Virginia (in order).
It should also be noted that, according to the site — which keeps records in near-real time — the vast majority of cases (at this point 13,416 out of 13,480 known) are only suffering from “mild” virus conditions.