“One crematorium won't be enough”. Italy at war with coronavirus

In some cemeteries in the north the burial places have run out and the crematoria are working 24 hours a day, with the number of deaths growing day by day.

Giulio Meotti

OpEds Italy
צילום: עצמי

Who knows how many of those faces, thosse, which like never before, crowd the obituary pages of a local newspaper in an area greatly affected by the epidemic, the city of Bergamo, died alone, in isolation, without the caress of their families?

Wouldn't it have been a nice gesture, a proper one, worthy of our culture of life and humanity, to give a face, a Spoon River, to all these frightening numbers that arrive, day after day, for the past three weeks - to us, every evening at 6 pm, especially considering that they constantly call them “old”?

Maybe it would have been even less glacial. Maybe we would have taken this national tragedy more seriously from the beginning, since we still don't sem to think it concerns us,  when ot is only one of our “old people” who are taken away. 

In a single day, Italy lost 349 people for a total of 2.158 victims of Covid-19. Yesterday, 368 victims. The day before 170...This is a war. How else can it be described? There is a video from Bergamo. There is a church near the local cemetery. where 40 coffins lie on the ground. There are videos of hospitals where so many old patients are supported by ventilators that doctors had to treat them in the corridors. 

Professor Remuzzi, director of Mario Negri Institute in Milan, said that he is seeing many colleagues who are becoming ill and falling down. “In Bergamo two Tuesdays ago there were 3 dead, seven days later there are 33. Today, 58”. And that if it were up to him, “I would tell those who assist me to help a young boy, not me. I am 70 years old”. 

So many problems from North to South of the country in this global emergency; in Naples a family stayed with a dead woman, dead at home, for more than 24 hours, because no one had come to check if she had the virus.

Piero Taffo, who is in charge in Rome at Spallanzani's Institute of “special burials”: “We have to go out with proper protection, suits, gowns, goggles, special masks. The approach to the deceased and his family has changed, and it's going to depersonalize even that human aspect that you have to have, facing death”, he explains. “Very few people can participate. I have heard some colleagues from the North and they are telling me that in some cemeteries the places have run out and the crematoria are working 24 hours a day, with the number of deaths growing day by day”.

If the numbers don't start falling, one crematorium won't be enough, said the mayor of Bergamo Giorgio Gori. “We won't be able to meet all the needs. Many corpses have been sent to other places for cremation. The crematorium of the city of Bergamo is not able to dispose of all the work it has to do; this is not to give particular unpleasant details but to make you understand the fatigue, the suffering. They are friends who die, acquaintances, colleagues”. 

And this is just the chronicle from a single Italian city. 

This is the hardest time for my country since the Second world war.