Coronavirus: Italian army called in to remove corpses as city’s crematorium struggles
Army vehicles and military personnel have been brought in to help move dozens of coffins from Bergamo to other regions, according to Ansa news agency. A well-known wealthy city, Bergamo is just northeast of Milan in Italy’s Lombardy region.
It has recorded at least 93 coronavirus-related deaths as the number of cases continues to sky-rocket every day.
The mayor of Bergamo, Giorgio Gori, said the true number of deaths attributable to COVID-19 could be much higher as many people with symptoms died before being tested.
A spokesperson for the local authority said: “The crematorium of Bergamo, working at full capacity, 24 hours a day, can cremate 25 dead.
“It is clear that it could not stand up to the numbers of the past few days.”
The coffins will now be taken to other cities in the region.
Crematoriums in Modena, Acquit Terme, Domodossola, Parma, Piacenza and several other cities are expected to take on the extra bodies.
Once the bodies have been cremated they will be returned to their home city of Bergamo.
On Monday, Reuters journalists said they witnessed two funerals hour, over a period of six hours.
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Because of the high amount of demand, many of the newly deceased were unable to have funerals.
They were instead taken to a chapel inside a church within the cemetery.
Coffins have already filled up two hospital mortuaries and a cemetery morgue.
Relatives have been allowed to enter the cemetery to pay their respects.
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But, they have only been able to visit in limited numbers and with the recommended amount of distance between each other to prevent the spread of the virus.
Meanwhile, the local newspaper’s daily obituary section has increased from two or other pages to 10.
Earlier this month, a doctor working in a Bergamo hospital warned 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.”
Italy has become the worst-hit nation outside China, where the virus originated.
It has led Europe to become the newest epicentre of the virus outbreak – with Lombardy, Italy, the most intensely affected region.
Italy has been on lock down since 9 March last week, yet experts say the peak of the virus is yet to come, and won’t hit until mid-April.
A trial of blanking testing and imposing strict quarantines on those infected and their contacts has proved partially successful in the small town of Vo, in north-east Italy.
The mayor of Vo said the town of 3,300 residents had not registered any new cases since Friday.
He was quoted by the country’s media as having said: “Testing was vital, it has saved many lives.”
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