Coronavirus: 50 doctors have now died in Italy as health system under growing pressure

‘The dead do not make a noise. Yet, the names of our dead friends, our colleagues, put here in black and white, make a deafening noise,’ says doctor’s association president

Kate Ng
Saturday 28 March 2020 15:46 GMT
Coronavirus: Harrowing footage from Italy hospital showing A+E overrun with coronavirus patients

At least 50 doctors have died from coronavirus infection in Italy, the country’s national doctor’s association has revealed.

A list of doctors who have died on the frontlines of Italy’s coronavirus epidemic has grown to 50. The list was updated daily by the National Federation of Orders of Surgeons and Dentists (FNOMCeO).

The harrowing new figures come as the country’s medical system and its staff struggle to remain standing under pressure of the second highest number of coronavirus cases in the world.

On Friday, Italy registered the most deaths since the epidemic hit the country about five weeks ago, with 969 victims adding to the world’s highest coronavirus death toll, raising the number to 9,134.

At least 17 of the doctors in the list had been working in Bergamo, the city in Lombardy with the highest number of Covid-19 cases.

Medical workers have largely been left to deal with the colossal outbreak without adequate supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE), reportedly only equipped with masks, scrubs, gloves and hairnets.

Filippo Anelli, president of the association, said in a statement: “It is reasonable to assume that these events would have been largely avoidable if health workers had been correctly informed and equipped with sufficient adequate PPE: masks, gloves, disposable gowns, protective visors – which instead continue to be in short supply or to be supplied in an unacceptable way in the midst of an epidemic to which even Italy had declared itself ready only up to two months ago.”

On Thursday, Mr Anelli reiterated the need for supplies of PPE to be increased to the Financial Times.

He said Italian doctors are being sent to the “war” against coronavirus “unarmed”, and added: “The dead do not make a noise. Yet, the names of our dead friends, our colleagues, put here in black and white, make a deafening noise.”

More than 7,100 healthcare workers around the country have been infected with the virus, sent home to recover and told to return to work once they recover and test negative.

Yesterday, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesusthe, director-general of the World Health Organisation (WHO), told reporters at a media briefing: “The chronic, global shortage of personal protective equipment is one of the most urgent threats to our collective ability to save lives.”

A doctor of the Tor Vergata hospital during the guided visit to the new Covid-19 ward in Rome, Italy

He said almost 2 million PPE items have been shipped to 74 countries by the WHO, and a “similar amount” will be sent to 60 more countries, but warned even more supplies are needed.

“This problem can only be solved with international cooperation and international solidarity,” he added. “When health workers are at risk, we’re all at risk.”

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