On the night of March 18, 2020 an endless line of Army trucks Italian was leaving the city of Bergamo, the European epicenter of the first wave of the pandemic. Loaded with 86 coffins, the vehicles were heading to other Italian cities because in this province in the north of the country they did not have enough to bury and cremate so many dead from the coronavirus. Even a parish had to be used to store the coffins while waiting for the military to take them away. A year after that moving image, which became an icon of tragedy, Italy this Thursday remembered the more than 103,000 lives killed by the pandemic since then with the National Day in Memory of the Victims of the covid.
The celebration, which will be repeated every year, comes in the middle of the third wave of infections and with around 42 million people in home confinement at least until after Easter. Twelve months after that nightmare image of Bergamo, the daily death toll from the coronavirus remains similar in Italy: while on March 18, 2020 there were 475 deaths, this Wednesday there were 431.
Hospitals also continue with water up to their necks, like a year ago. Right now there are 26,500 people hospitalized for covid and if a change in trend does not occur soon as a result of the latest restrictions, in a few days the maximum number of patients admitted in the first wave may be exceeded: 29,010. During the second peak of infections, registered in November, a cap was reached of 34,679 hospitalized.
On the occasion of the National Day in Memory of the Victims of the covid, Italian public buildings displayed flags at half-staff on Thursday throughout the country while Prime Minister Mario Draghi went to Bergamo to place a wreath in the city’s monumental cemetery, where he stressed that “the State is present”, despite all the difficulties. Then he participated in the emotional inauguration ceremony of the Forest of Memory, where the first 100 trees of the 850 that will comprise it have already been planted.
Draghi is committed to promoting vaccination
“We cannot hug each other but this is the day when we should all feel even more united. Starting from here, from this place that remembers those who are no longer there. In this city there is no one who has not had a relative or an acquaintance struck by the virus, “said Draghi, who promised to promote the vaccination campaign, beyond the difficulties with AstraZeneca, since it will never be repeated again. what happened in Bergamo in March 2020.
In that month, this province registered 568% more deaths than the average of the previous 5 years. In the first wave of the pandemic, 3,400 people lost their lives due to coronavirus, according to official data, although it could have been around 6,000, as the mayor of Bergamo, Giorgio Gori, lamented, who recalled that in those months they were hardly ever done. PCR testing to detect the pathogen. “For three weeks my neighbors, the people of our province, fell like flies,” commented Mario Sorlini, dean of the Bergamo family doctors, in the ‘Corriere della Sera’.
Draghi promised Italian elders that it will “never again” happen that frail people do not receive adequate care. “Only in this way will we respect the dignity of those who have left us. Only in this way will this Forest of Memory also be the symbolic place of our redemption, ”said the head of government. This park is located a short distance from the Pope John XXIII hospital in Bergamo, one of the largest medical centers in northern Italy and which played a key role during the first wave of the pandemic. Draghi thanked and celebrated the efforts of the staff of this and all the health centers in the country.
The inauguration ceremony of the Bergamo Forest of Memory began with an emotional horn solo by Italian maestro Paolo Fressu. Then the Bergamasco councilor, Gori, took the floor, who acknowledged that when they initially thought about this act they hoped that it could serve to celebrate the end of the pandemic and that they could summon a crowd. “Not yet, although there is little to go,” he said hopefully.
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