Coronavirus: ‘We’re here to work and to fight’ – final words of Italian doctor who died on the front line | World News

At least 66 medical workers have died in Italy as the country battles to slow the spread of coronavirus. 

Italian health staff are on the front line of the fight in the country with the most recorded COVID-19 deaths in the world.

Since the outbreak began earlier this year more than 11,500 Italians have lost their lives.

Sky's Stuart Ramsay was invited in to the scale of the crisis

At the centre of the COVID-19 crisis

Hospitals have been overwhelmed.

A national doctors’ association, Federazione Nazionale degli Ordini dei Medici Chirurghi e degli Odontoiatri (FNOMCeO), has been recording the number of health workers to die while trying to save the lives of coronavirus patients.

Their data suggests at least 66 medical staff have lost their lives in the process of getting treatment to patients across Italy.

The first to die was Roberto Stella, aged 67, on 11 March.

A colleague and friend has said his last words were: “We’re here to work and to fight.”

Speaking before he fell ill, he told another: “We have run out of masks. But we don’t stop. Let’s be careful and go on.”

Hailed as a hero, he left behind a family including a 24-year-old son who is currently studying to be doctor. In his tribute, he told the Italian press he had dreamt of making his father proud when he eventually graduated.

Saverio Chiaravalle, vice-president of the Varese doctor’s order, told Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera: “He died a hero, like other colleagues who have died in recent days.”

Dr Stella was from near Bergamo, one of the hardest hit regions of the country.

When went to the main hospital in Bergamo, one doctor us: “I have never felt so stressed in my life, I’m an intensivist, and I am quite used to intense moments… But when you are at this point you realise that you are not enough.”

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The efforts of the health workers prompted the Italian minister of foreign affairs to say: “It should make us understand that this is not a game and that there are people who are dying, and women and men who are risking their lives to save others.”

The latest data released by Italy’s Higher Institute of Health (ISS) states at least 6,414 health workers have been infected, with an average age of 49.

There have been concerns raised about staff not having access to enough protective clothing.

In Bergamo, the ambulance sirens never stop

Marcello Natal, 57, was working in a hospital in the town of Codogno and died on 18 March after testing positive for coronavirus.

Before his death, he gave an interview to EuroNews where he raised that he and his colleagues did not have basic equipment like gloves. “They are finished,” he said simply.

“We certainly weren’t prepared to face such a situation. Especially those of our generation, that of the post-antibiotic era, who grew up thinking that a pill against disease was enough,” he told the broadcaster.

Ivano Garzena died earlier this month. Pic: Facebook
Ivano Garzena died earlier this month. Pic: Facebook

The youngest known health practitioner to die is Ivano Garzena, 48, a dentist from Turin. He passed away on 17 March.

He had a passion for model aircraft and used to drop candy for children when flying his hobby planes on a Sunday over the park near Turin, according to Italian publication La Stampa. In a tribute, his friends told Mr Garzena to “now fly like your planes”.

Sky News

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