Five more Italian doctors have died from coronavirus, bringing the death doll among medics in the country to 13 as it was revealed 2,629 health workers have been infected.
Initially three new fatalities were named as Luigi Ablondi, former general manager of Crema hospital, Giuseppe Finzi, a hospital doctor in Cremona and a general practitioner in Bergamo called Antonino Buttafuoco.
Then later today it emerged another two medical workers had passed away from the illness, the Italian national federation of doctors guilds said.
More than 2,600 medical workers have been infected with coronavirus in Italy – 8.3 per cent of the country’s total cases, it emerged last night, as the government extended lockdown measures beyond the start of April today.
There has been growing concerns about the safety of front-line medical staff who come into regular contact with infected patients.
Dr Buttafuoco, who tested positive for the virus, was unable to overcome the symptoms of the disease and passed away yesterday at the age of 66.
Dr Giuseppe Finzi, 62, worked at University Hospital of Parma and had previously run for mayor of Soragna, local media report.
Dr Luigi Ablondi died at the Cremasco hospital, which he had run for 11 years, on Monday at the age of 66, according to Il Nuovo Torrazzo.
Luigi Ablondi, 66, the former general manager of Crema hospital died at the Cremasco hospital on Monday, it was revealed today
Italian doctors Giuseppe Finzi (left) and Antonino Buttafuoco (right) both died of coronavirus, it was announced today
Luigi Frusciante (left) and Giuseppe Lanati (right), who were in their 70s, both came out of retirement in order to help fight the growing coronavirus crisis in their communities
It was also announced that pneumologist at Sant’Anna hospital in Como, Giuseppe Lanati, and GP Luigi Frusciante, who was a GP in Sagnino, had died on Sunday.
Both Lanati, 73, and Frusciante, 71, had come out of retirement to help their community during the coronavirus crisis, which had hit Italy harder than any other country outside China.
Previously doctors Raffaele Giura and Franco Galli also died of coronavirus, local media reported last week.
The latest figures on infected healthcare workers were released by a health foundation which said the ‘huge number’ of infected medics showed that procedures and protection equipment for doctors were ‘still inadequate’.
The problem is far worse than in China, because ‘8.3 per cent is more than double the percentage of the Chinese cohort’, the Gimbe foundation’s president Nino Cartabellotta told Italian media.
According to the figures, which are drawn from official data, the number of infected medics has risen by more than 1,500 just in the last eight days.
The figure of 2,629 infected medical professionals means that nearly 0.3 per cent of Italy’s health workers have caught the disease – taking them out of service when they are desperately needed.
‘No more talking: adequately protect those who must protect us,’ Cartabellotta urged last night.
It came as Italy recorded a record 4,207 infections and 475 new deaths from the virus yesterday, squashing hopes that the unprecedented national lockdown was beginning to slow the spread of the pathogen.
Prime minister Giuseppe Conte has now warned that quarantine measures ‘must be extended beyond their original deadline’. Some had initially been due to expire as early as next Wednesday.
A coronavirus patient lies on his front in an intensive care unit at the Oglio Po hospital in Cremona today. Researchers believe lying face down can raise survival rates in intensive care by improving oxygen levels in the blood
Medical staff collect a patient from an ambulance at a hospital in Rome earlier this week – with more than 2,600 medical workers infected across Italy, adding to the country’s crisis
Health workers in face masks work in a crowded area outside the Spedali di Brescia hospital in Italy, amid warnings that protection equipment and procedures for doctors are ‘inadequate’
A triage department of the Spedali di Brescia hospital shows the first recovery of patients suspected of having coronavirus
Pope Francis during a solitary mass today at the chapel of the Santa Marta guest house in the Vatican where he lives
This graph published by the Gimbe foundation showed that the number of infected medical workers has risen sharply
New cases per day in Italy: The number of daily cases was fairly stagnant at the start of this week, settling down at around 3,500 new patients per day
99% of people who died from virus had previous health problems
More than 99 per cent of Italian virus deaths so far are patients who had previous health conditions, a study by the country’s health authority suggests.
Research into 355 deaths showed that only three of the victims, 0.8 per cent, had no pre-existing health problems.
Nearly half of them – 48.5 per cent – had three or even more health conditions before they were infected with coronavirus.
Another 25.6 per cent had two other ‘pathologies’, while 25.1 per cent had one.
The research is consistent with previous findings that people with existing medical problems are more likely to die if they catch the coronavirus.
According to the Italian study, the most common of these problems include high blood pressure and heart disease.
Some 76.1 per cent of the dead patients had previously had problems with high arterial blood pressure, the study found.
More than a third – 35.5 per cent – had diabetes, while 33.0 per cent had ischemic heart disease.
Nearly a quarter, 24.5 per cent, had suffered from atrial fibrillation.
Less common examples included dementia and liver disease.
The study also found that the average age of people who died from the virus was 79.5.
Again, that is consistent with previous findings that older people are more vulnerable to the disease.
Italy’s 475 new deaths are the largest number that any country, even China, has reported in a single day since the outbreak began late last year.
The previous record high of 368 deaths was also recorded in Italy, on Sunday.
The mounting death toll forced the army to intervene in the city of Bergamo yesterday to transport dozens of coffins out of the city.
The local crematorium has been overwhelmed by the crisis with staff handling 24 bodies a day, twice the usual maximum.
Italy’s new surge in cases, which takes the total to 35,713, puts an end to four days of stalling infection numbers and dampens hopes that the quarantine is working.
Italians have been ordered to stay indoors, with schools and universities shut, shops closed except for grocery stores and pharmacies, and heavy restrictions on travel.
However, officials warn there is a lag time between the lockdown being imposed and its effects becoming noticeable in the figures.
‘The main thing is, do not give up,’ Italian National Institute of Health chief Silvio Brusaferro said in a nationally televised press conference.
‘It will take a few days before we see the benefits’ of containment measures, said Brusaferro.
‘We must maintain these measures to see their effect, and above all to protect the most vulnerable.’
Imposed nationally on March 12, the shutdown of most Italian businesses and a ban on public gatherings were initially due to expire on March 25 with schools shut until April 3.
But prime minister Giuseppe Conte said today that the lockdown will be extended beyond the April 3 deadline.
‘The measures we have taken… must be extended beyond their original deadline,’ Conte told Thursday’s edition of the Corriere della Sera newspaper.
A top government minister hinted yesterday that the school closure could be extended well into next month, if not longer.
This beach in Amalfi was empty despite the sunshine today with Italy remaining under an unprecedented national lockdown
Health workers take a patient on a wheelchair into an ambulance outside a hospital in Brescia in northern Italy this week
Hospital workers prepare coffins at the Ponte San Pietro hospital in Bergamo on Tuesday, in the province of Lombardy which has been the worst-affected region of Italy
Medics and paramedics from China arrived in Milan on Wednesday. The 37-strong team of doctors and paramedics will be deployed to hospitals in Italy’s most affected areas, bringing with them 20 tons of equipment to combat coronavirus
Layoffs banned and rents reduced in Italian economic plan
Companies are barred from laying off workers and rents have been reduced under Italy’s economic survival plan.
Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte hailed his €25billion (£23bn), 127-point programme as the ‘Italian model’ that the rest of Europe could adopt.
Firms are prohibited from laying off workers for the next two months without ‘justified objective reasons’ while the self-employed and seasonal workers such as tour guides will receive €600 payments.
The government will also cover €100 bonuses for low-wage employees.
Families are being issued €600 vouchers to cover the expense of having to hire baby sitters, with a shutdown of schools and kindergartens expected to last weeks.
The self-employed who have to look after their children will receive ‘parental leave’ payments that cover half of their declared monthly incomes.
Conte has shut down all forms of business except for pharmacies and grocery stores for two weeks starting on March 12.
The government is compensating owners of closed shops by offering them tax credits to cover 60 per cent of their March rent payment.
The self-employed and freelancers with home mortgages can ask to have their payments suspended for up to 18 months if they can prove that their incomes fell by a third.
A variety of taxes and social service payments are being suspended for sectors and professions deemed most affected by the crisis.
The government is also sending €20million to repair the damage caused to prisons by rioters who were anxious about the new disease.
Italy’s sport federations get four-month tax privileges and 130 million euros will go to support cinemas and the movie industry.
Italy’s National Research Council (CNR) expects a ‘significant reduction’ in the growth rate of new infections in the Lombardy region around Milan by next Tuesday or Wednesday.
The northern region of around 10million people has been at the epicentre of the crisis since the start, reporting two thirds of all the deaths in the nation of 60 million.
It has been under lockdown since March 8.
Noting that infections are starting to rise in the south, where many Italians moved after the start of containment measures in the north, the CNR predicts that figures across Italy will only stabilise between March 25 and April 15.
There have been fears that the health system of the poorer south would be entirely unable to cope with an outbreak on the scale which the north has suffered.
The rates within Italy itself remained stable yesterday, with two-thirds of the deaths – 1,959 in all – reported in the northern Lombardy region around Milan, the Italian financial and fashion capital.
The neighbouring Emilia-Romagna region of Bologna has suffered a total of 458 fatalities, and Turin’s Piedmont region has had 154 deaths.
Rome’s Lazio region has a toll of 32 deaths and 724 infections.
Doctors on the front line of Italy’s coronavirus outbreak have described ‘catastrophic’ scenes in hospitals which are creaking with the sheer volume of cases.
Some patients have been lying face-down on their hospital beds, which researchers believe can raise survival rates in intensive care by improving oxygen levels in the blood.
A new Oxford University study has suggested that Italy may be particularly vulnerable because it has such an old population and the elderly come into frequent contact with the young.
Italy’s population is the second-oldest in the world, behind only Japan.
Oxford researchers said it was common for young adults in rural areas to live with their parents and grandparents but to commute into cities, such as Milan, to work and socialise.
Young people may have been picking up the virus while travelling and brought it home without realising they were ill, the Oxford researchers said.
The study is a warning to Britain, which has an ageing population. Older people are known to be more likely to die of Covid-19 if they are infected with the virus.
Cardiac surgeon Antonino Marchese looks at hospital beds in the Casal Palocco hospital near Rome yesterday
A triage department of the Spedali di Brescia hospital in northern Italy which has been the worst-affected region of Italy
A deserted area outside the Colosseum in Rome, which is usually heaving with tourists, after Italians were ordered to stay inside unless necessary
Pope Francis reads a message during his weekly general audience at the Vatican yesterday with only a few people present
Hospital workers in face masks stand over trolleys at the Ponte San Pietro hospital in Bergamo on Tuesday as they prepare coffins
A family who were relaxing on a lawn were ordered to move by Italian police in San Donato Milanese near the city of Milan on Tuesday, after they flouted the country’s coronavirus quarantine rules
Medical staff collect a patient from an ambulance at the second Covid-19 hospital in Rome, Italy, which is fighting the biggest virus outbreak outside of China
An Italian solider stands guard at an unknown soldier altar in Rome on Wednesday. The country was rocked by more than 400 coronavirus related deaths today, the highest one-day total of any country since the first case was detected in China in late 2019
In a sign that Italy is scrambling to react to the outbreak, Dr Sergio Cattaneo (pictured) said he has seen unused wards outfitted into an intensive care unit in six days
Doctors on the front line of Italy’s coronavirus outbreak have described ‘catastrophic’ scenes in hospitals which are creaking with the sheer volume of cases. Pictured: staff preparing to open a new hospital in Rome
Italy is also rushing 10,000 student doctors into service, scrapping their final exams, in an effort to help the struggling health service cope with the coronavirus.
University Minister Gaetano Manfredi said the government would let this year’s medicine graduates start work some eight or nine months ahead of schedule and waive the mandatory exams they normally sit before qualifying.
‘This means immediately releasing into the National Health System the energy of about 10,000 doctors, which is fundamental to dealing with the shortage that our country is suffering,’ he said in a statement.
The graduates will be sent to work in general practitioners’ clinics and at old peoples’ homes, freeing up more experienced colleagues who will be sent to the rapidly filling hospitals.
Over three weeks, 1,135 people have needed intensive care in Lombardy, the northern region hardest hit.
The region has only 800 intensive care beds, according to Giacomo Grasselli, head of the intensive care unit at Milan’s Policlinico hospital.
Authorities have been working to set up hundreds of intensive care beds in a specially created facility in the Fiera Milano exhibition center, but are still waiting for sufficient respirators and qualified personnel.
Medical director Antonino Marchese holds a press conference before the opening of the third coronavirus Hospital in Casal Palocco, Rome
Italy’s fleet of the dead: Military trucks transport scores of coronavirus victims’ coffins to be cremated
Coffins of coronavirus victims were whisked away on a fleet of army trucks last night after a cemetery in northern Italy was overwhelmed by the death toll.
The column of army trucks brought the dead out of Bergamo on Wednesday night in what Italians have called ‘one of the saddest photos in the history of our country’.
The cemetery in Bergamo can no longer cope with the mounting death toll in the city, where more than 4,300 people have been infected and at least 93 have died.
Mortuaries are full and crematorium staff have been handling 24 bodies a day, including the regular drumbeat of non-virus deaths, meaning the bodies of virus victims have had to be dispatched to neighbouring provinces.
A fleet of army trucks on a highway in Bergamo last night, transporting the coffins of coronavirus victims out of the city after the local cemetery became overwhelmed by the virus death toll
The army vehicles drive along a Bergamo road as seen from the window of a nearby building, taking coffins out of the city
Italian army trucks are parked next to a monument in Bergamo yesterday as they prepared to take coffins out of the city. At least 93 people have died of coronavirus in Bergamo and more than 4,000 have been infected
Italian soldiers, some of them wearing face masks, gather next to some of their trucks in Bergamo yesterday where local crematorium staff have been handling 24 bodies a day
An army spokesman confirmed today that 15 trucks and 50 soldiers had been deployed to move bodies to neighbouring provinces.
Italian media said there were around 70 coffins in the grim procession last night as the bodies were taken from the crematorium to the highway and out of Bergamo.
Giacomo Angeloni, the local official in charge of cemeteries in Bergamo, said earlier this week that the crematorium was handling around 24 bodies a day, almost twice its normal maximum.
Local authorities in Bergamo had appealed for help with cremations after being overwhelmed by the death toll.
The pews of the crematorium church have been removed to leave space to lay out scores of coffins but more have been arriving every day.
One Italian who saw the picture of a column of trucks said it was ‘one of the saddest photos in the history of our country’, while another said it was a ‘photo of war’.
‘We are Italians and it is at times like these that we bring out the best in us. We will get out of it and we will do it for them too,’ one said.
Italian soldiers speak to people at the entrance of the cemetery in Bergamo, where bodies have had to be moved out of the city because local undertakers and crematorium staff cannot cope
The army intervenes to move the bodies from the main cemetery of Bergamo, in Lombardy which has been worst affected by the health crisis in Italy
Army trucks drive along a road in Bergamo yesterday in what Italians have described as one of the ‘saddest’ images in the country’s history
An Italian soldier carries a bag in each hand while police officers wearing masks are also on the scene near the cemetery
An army spokesman confirmed today that 15 trucks and 50 soldiers, some of which are pictured, had been deployed to move bodies from Bergamo to neighbouring provinces
Coffins are laid out in a chapel at a cemetery in Bergamo, where crematorium staff have been handling 24 bodies a day, including the regular drumbeat of non-virus deaths
This content was originally published here.