Italy has recorded 100,000 deaths from coronavirus, a year after it became the first Western country to impose a total lockdown and as it prepares for a third wave of the pandemic.
Among those who have died in recent days are Monique Forciniti, a 55-year-old school cook from Pistoia in Tuscany and Stefano Limongi, the 34-year-old owner of a sushi bar in Rome.
Italy’s newly appointed Prime Minister Mario Draghi said that exceeding the “terrible threshold” of 100,000 deaths was something “that we would never have imagined a year ago.”
On March 9, 2020, her predecessor, Giuseppe Conte, imposed unprecedented national restrictions when the pandemic took hold of her. At that time, Italy had recorded 463 deaths from Covid-19 and 9,172 infections.
A year later, the death toll on Monday rose to 100,103, the highest in Europe after the UK, while the total number of infections since the start of the pandemic last week dwarfed 3 million.
“A year ago, this was something that none of the doctors had ever experienced and, of course, we hoped and imagined, like everyone else, that it would end soon,” said Saverio Chiaravalle, vice president of the order of doctors in the Lombard province of Varese and close friend of Roberto Stella, the president of the order who was the first doctor in Italy to die from the virus.
“I miss Roberto a lot,” he said. “There is all the debate about whether people died from Covid-19 or from Covid-19, but at the end of the day, they died because they were infected with it.”
Italy is grappling with rapidly spreading coronavirus variants, especially the UK variant, which accounts for more than 50% of new infections. Lombardy remains the worst affected region, with hospitals in certain areas, especially in the province of Brescia, once again being overwhelmed. Other areas of the country that were barely touched during the first wave, such as Perugia in Umbria, have become virus hot spots.
In the week between February 24 and March 2, the number of new infections increased by a third to more than 123,000, the highest since early December.
Hospital admissions have increased nationally, with 21,831 people receiving treatment for Covid-19 in general wards and 2,700 in intensive care.
Italy emerged from last spring’s harsh lockdown in early May, but since the resurgence of infections in the fall it has been trying to avoid another widespread lockdown by using a system of color tiered restrictions in all 20 regions of the country. , depending on the severity of the disease. the spread of the virus and the ability of hospitals to cope.
Tighter restrictions are expected to be announced, which could put all or half of the country in the harshest “red zone” category, if the daily number of infections exceeds 30,000 by Friday.
Luigi Di Maio, the chancellor, wrote on Facebook on Monday that with the current data, “there is no alternative to stricter measures.” In a poll conducted by Corriere della Sera over the weekend, 44% of Italians said they would support another tough lockdown, up from 30% two weeks earlier.
The lockdown period could also be used to help speed up the vaccination program, which since January has been hampered by delays in deliveries, but also by the change of government.
Draghi, who last week blocked the export from Italy to Australia of 250,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, said Monday that the program will be “decisively strengthened” in the coming days.
Chiaravalle said there has been a significant drop in the number of medical workers dying or becoming infected with the coronavirus since vaccinations began in late December.
However, with the general population fatigued after a year of the pandemic, people have become less fearful of the stubbornly high daily death rate.
“There really was terror a year ago,” Chiaravalle added. “Not that they should be terrified. However, it is necessary that the law exists between fear to ensure that people continue to comply with the rules. “
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism