“If This Keeps Going For Six Months, We Will Have To Prepare The Plot For Mass Graves”− Carlo Reveals

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Hospitalised coronavirus patients cannot see their families and, as funerals are banned, final goodbyes must wait.

Rome, Italy – The image of Italian army trucks escorting coffins as a local crematorium was unable to cope with the number of bodies coming in shocked the citizens in Bergamo city this week.

The footage, which caught international attention and was shared widely on social media, was a stark reminder of how grave the coronavirus outbreak is in the northern region of Lombardy.

“If this keeps going for six months, we will have to prepare the plot for mass graves,” Carlo Rossini, a worker at the Funeral Honours Agency La Bergamasca, told Al Jazeera.

Italy is Europe’s epicentre of the coronavirus with more than 47,000 infected, and days after the truck images were circulated, the number of deaths in the country rose further, to more than 4,030, surpassing the toll in China, where the outbreak originated.

With more than 5,150 people infected, the northern province of Bergamo has become the hotbed of the virus, taking over the areas where the infection broke out in the country.

Authorities disclose only regional data, so there is no specific count on the victims in the province.

The final death toll could be higher than the official statistics.

“There are significant numbers of people who have died but whose death hasn’t been attributed to the coronavirus because they died at home or in a nursing home and so they weren’t swabbed,” Giorgio Gori, mayor of the town of Bergamo, told Reuters news agency.

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Italian military trucks and soldiers are seen by Bergamo’s cemetery after the army was deployed to move coffins from the cemetery to neighbouring provinces, after the cemetery was overwhelmed by the scale of the coronavirus outbreak [Sergio Agazzi/Fotogramma via Reuters]

Gori said there were 164 deaths in his city in the first 15 days of March this year, of which 31 were attributed to the coronavirus. That compares with 56 deaths over the same period last year.

In another video widely shared on social media, dozens of coffins awaiting burial are lined up along the walls of a local cemetery church.

“There are roughly 25 deceased that need [burying] and 25 whose wish was to be cremated, every day,” Giulio Dellavita, the secretary of a local diocese, told Al Jazeera. “Even with the crematorium working 24 hours, we cannot take care of more than 40 per day.”

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