Sitting in her Italian hospital bed fighting coronavirus, frail Daniela De Rosa issues an emotional plea to those still ignoring advice to stay home as the disease runs riot.
With exhausted medical staff struggling to cope around her, the 43-year-old vet told how she went from a healthy individual to a virtual wreck relying on a ventilator to keep her alive.
Daniela spoke as Italy yesterday reported its biggest one-day leap in deaths – at 793. It brings the total of those killed by the virus in the country to 4,825. There are now 53,578 cases with 6,557 coming in just 24 hours.
And Britain has been warned by Milan professor Davide Manca we face a “tsunami” of cases overwhelming the struggling NHS if action is not taken.
Since the outbreak started the UK now has a faster trajectory of daily deaths than Italy, with ours at 45% compared to its current 18% – which has fallen from 35%.
Daniela has been in quarantine at a Naples hospital with viral pneumonia for days. In a video she made begging people to stay at home, she said: “This ventilator has been my best friend. It saved my life.
“Before this I was in perfect health, now I’m fighting for my life. So many haven’t respected the rules and put at risk the lives of others. I want you to see me and look in my eyes and see the suffering of those who have to fight this virus.”
Daniela’s only contact is a daily medical check and meals served through a grate.
The death toll in Italy has been so rapid it has outpaced that of China, where the outbreak started last year.
Haunting images of military trucks laden with coffins and morgues full of victims stand as a terrifying reminder to Britain and the rest of Europe of the dangers the virus poses if the chain of infection cannot be broken.
There have been riots in prisons, police patrolling the once-bustling tourist spots, and families are being torn apart. But despite being in lockdown, many Italians are ignoring the warnings to stay home, with figures showing 43,000 penalty notices for breaking the rules.
The country is regarded as having the globe’s second-best healthcare system, according to the World Health Organisation. But hospitals are close to collapse as the number of cases just keeps on rising. Stretched doctors compare their dire situation to a war zone.
Of 37,000 people who are sick, 2,590 need intensive care – around 7%. With one in 10 of all those ill being doctors and nurses, there is a drastic shortage of medical workers. At least 17 have died.
And medics are facing a frightening new development as the age of the victims gets younger, with one man treated being just 36.
The pharmaceutical agency reported a shortage of anaesthetics and blood donations down as people stay home.
The Government has built field hospitals with camp beds and refitted a cruise ship in Genoa as a hospital.
Four in 10 cases and six in 10 deaths are in Lombardy, the area around Milan, creating a shortage of coffins. With the morgues full, authorities had to store coffins in churches until the army collected them and drove them to other areas.
Things have got so bad, a team of 65 Cuban doctors and nurses with experience battling Ebola will arrive in Lombardy today to help in the Covid-19 fight. .
Experts trying to find out why Italy has such a high death toll fear the reason may be it has the second-oldest population in the world and strong family structures. Many elderly still live with relatives. Others have linked the mortality rate to a high number of people who smoke, or the affectionate nature of Italians.
WHO has been looking at a possible connection between the heavy industry in Lombardy, where residents have high levels of respiratory diseases. A study of the first 350 dead showed 99% had other illnesses, such as heart problems and diabetes.
Most people are sticking to the rules on social isolation, but officials yesterday clamped down on those flouting them. The Government banned jogging and bike rides and stopped people from escaping to holiday houses.
Frustration is growing with pubs, restaurants, parks and cinemas shut, and Serie A league football suspended. Church services are cancelled as are weddings and funerals, making it especially difficult for grieving family members who cannot say goodbye.
But people have been finding new ways to socialise, with virtual drinks dates and online yoga and Zumba classes. DJs play sets from balconies and streets hold singalongs at 6pm.
Gyms and hairdressers are shut. But some residents have transformed their homes into barbers and nail bars, with a boom in home deliveries of hair-clippers, treadmills and weights.
Volunteers are pitching in to help, delivering shopping and prescriptions to OAPs. Local butchers and greengrocers are still open.
Doctors and nurses have come out of retirement to lend a hand. Two Italian medics living in London returned to Milan to help after hearing the workload for their former colleagues “was unsustainable”.
One said: “Leaving everything so fast was very difficult and emotional but given the shortage of medical staff we thought it was right to come back.
“If you are a doctor you feel the need to help where it is needed.”
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