The tragic magnitude of the Italian medical emergency was turned upside down on Wednesday when it emerged that a nurse had committed suicide after contracting the coronavirus.
Daniela Trezzi, 34, was traumatized by what she saw on the front lines of the battle against the virus and terrified that she had unintentionally passed it on to others.
She was working in the intensive care unit of a hospital in the northern city of Monza when she tested positive on March 10.
Since then, she has been isolated at home, “living with extreme stress and fear of infecting others,” said the Italian Federation of Nursing Corporations.
Calling suicide “a terrible episode,” the federation said, “What Daniela has seen recently has helped a lot … it was the straw that broke the camel’s back.”
The federation noted that another nurse committed suicide in Venice a week ago and warned that “under these stressful conditions, it may not be the last.”
Italy announced that another 683 people died of the virus on Wednesday, bringing the total death toll to 7,503. This was down from 743 people who died on Tuesday.
The total number of confirmed cases in Italy jumped from 5,200 to almost 75,000, most of them in the north of the country. Nearly 10,000 people have fully recovered.
More than 5,000 Italian health workers have been infected with the coronavirus, unions say doctors and nurses urgently need more protective equipment. Thirty doctors have died, some of whom have come out of retirement to help exhausted hospital staff.
Angelo Borrelli, head of the Civil Protection Agency, a key figure in the country’s campaign against the virus, fell with a fever and was tested.
The Catholic Church has also been hit hard by the pandemic – 67 priests have died in the past month. The youngest was 53 years old.
Earlier this month, Pope Francis called on the clergy “to have the courage to go out and see the sick” despite the risk that priests would contract the virus themselves.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has said that contagion in Italy could peak this week and then start to decline.
“The slowing of the growth rate is an extremely positive factor, and in some regions I think we are close to the point where the curve falls, therefore the peak can be reached this week and then fall again,” said Ranieri Guerra, The deputy director of WHO said on Italian radio.
“I think this week and the first few days of the next one will be decisive because these will be times when the government’s (lockdown) measures of 15-20 days ago are expected to have an effect.”
A small town in the southern region of Puglia used bales of hay to block access to strangers, saying it had no infections and wanted to stay.
“We used the equipment at our disposal. We don’t have a lot of road barriers, so we used raw materials from our community, “said Giovanni Campese, mayor of Monteleone di Puglia.