by Giulio Meotti
At the beginning there were the pages of the funeral announcements of the local newspaper L’Eco di Bergamo that have gone viral around the world, increased from 1 page to 10 in the last month. Now it’s the local news that comes from the nursing homes.
Almost 1 out of every 3 elderly citizens in Italy are hospitalized in the epicenter of the virus, between Lombardy, Emilia-Romagna and Veneto. The pandemic is decimating those who live in nursing homes, as happeed in Madrid at the “Monte Hermoso” Institute and as happened in South Korea at the Daenam institute.
In the Forlinese area, Covid-19 spread within a retirement home, the Pellegrino Artusi of Forlimpopoli. Of the 35 residents, 25 are positive and 2 have died. In a nursing home in Quinzano, in the Brescia area, 20 elderly people have already died since the beginning of the emergency. 5 of them within a few hours. Only 1 of them had been swabbed and tested positive. The rest of them just died, not even knowing if they had contracted the disease, due to the respiratory problems it causes.
After the Barbariga case, with 7 elderly people who died within a few days, 9 residents of that same nursing home died in Calcinato in a week. Another 5 died between Friday the 13th and Saturday the 14th of March in the nursing home Don Ciriaco Vezzoli of Cividate al Piano in the Bergamo area.
The virus is “working” its way through the nursing home in Mombretto, Mediglia: 44 have already died, a third of the facility’s total number of elderly. It is a veritable coming and going of funeral cars at the home.
There are already 15 deaths since the end of February in a hospice in Gandino, near Bergamo, where the number of coronavirus victims is much higher than it appears officially. According to the mayor Giorgio Gori, “many”of the dead had not been swabbed. It is the same situation in Scanzorosciate, where the mayor Davide Casati says: “In the period from the 2nd to the 15th of March 2019 we had 6 elderly deaths, all in the rest home. We are up tot 36 in the same two weeks this year”.
Gori reported that there were 164 deaths in Bergamo in the first two weeks of March, including 31 attributed to the virus, a figure that must be compared with the 56 deaths in the same period last year. Even adding the 31 coronavirus deaths to the total would result in 77 more deaths, an increase suggesting that the virus could have caused significantly more deaths than officially registered.
Emilio Tanzi, director of Cremona Solidale, a 460-bed nursing home, says there has been a significant and “anomalous” increase in deaths since March 2, when the epidemic started to grow in Italy. In one day, last week, there were 18 deaths in his facility, all patients with breathing difficulties. Walter Montini, president of Arsac, which represents 30 homes for the elderly in the province of Cremona, says that in a small nursing home with 36 beds, there were 7 deaths in a day. In a Merlara nursing home, 60 of the 69 elderly are coronavirus positive and four are already dead.
The bodies of these respected elders of the community are wrapped in special plastic bags and buried with the sole blessing of a priest. This is how they pass away, in silence, even left outside the medical statistics that arrive every evening, without even the final greeting and contact of loved ones. This is the way we take our leave of the generation that rebuilt Italy in the post-war period.
It is not an epidemic. It is a nightmare.