Italy's health workers on edge of exhaustion in virus fight - International | NTV

Italy's health workers on edge of exhaustion in virus fight


Sunday March 15, 2020


A worn-out nurse slumps over her keyboard in a widely shared image symbolic of the extreme fatigue that Italian healthcare workers are facing as they battle Europe's worst outbreak of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The picture is of Elena Pagliarini, a nurse in the northern region of Lombardy which has been worst hit by the disease.

Nationwide Italy has more than 1,400 deaths from the virus and 21,000 infections, with a quarter of the country's intensive care beds taken up by those with the illness.

In normal times Lombardy is the economic heart of Italy, equipped with one of the world's best health systems.

But those who staff it -- like Pagliarini -- have been put under enormous strain.

"On one hand I was annoyed to see my photo everywhere, I was ashamed of showing my weakness," Pagliarini told the Corriere della Sera newspaper.

"But then I was happy because I got beautiful messages from people who empathised with my story," she said.

"I actually don't feel physically tired, I can work for 24 hours straight if it's necessary but I won't hide the fact that right now I'm anxious because I'm fighting an enemy that I don't know," she added.

She's just one of many healthcare workers who have expressed their concern at the toll that the outbreak is taking, on facilities and personnel alike.

"It's almost two weeks since I've seen my son or my family because I'm worried about infecting them," Daniele Macchini, a hospital doctor in the northern city of Bergamo, (also in Lombardy) wrote in a widely-shared Facebook post.

"I settle for some photos of my son which I look at through my tears, and a few video calls," he says.