Italy nurses reveal how they are exhausted and bruised by coronavirus

Italian nurses reveal how they are exhausted and bruised by the battle against coronavirus as one medic’s face is rubbed raw by her mask and another falls asleep at her desk

  • Alessia Bonari, a nurse in Milan, was left with her face bruised by face mask use
  • Another nurse, Elena Pagliarini, fell asleep while wearing her mask and gown
  • Hospitals have been ‘overwhelmed’ by the crisis with 10,000 cases and 631 dead

Italian nurses have been bruised by constant face mask use and left slumped over their desks from exhaustion as they battle the coronavirus crisis in Italy.  

One nurse, Alessia Bonari, posted a picture of her bruised face after wearing protective gear for hours during a shift in Milan. 

Describing life at the hospital, she revealed how she could not drink or go to the bathroom for six hours after putting on her protective gear. 

Another nurse, Elena Pagliarini, was pictured slumped over her desk while still wearing her mask at a hospital in Cremona where she had been working around the clock. 

Italy has seen 631 deaths and more than 10,000 confirmed cases since the outbreak began with hospitals becoming ‘overwhelmed’ by the crisis. 

Alessia Bonari, a nurse in northern Italy, posted this picture of her bruised face after wearing a protective face mask for hours during a shift in Milan

Another nurse, Elena Pagliarini, was pictured slumped over her desk at a hospital in Cremona where she had been working around the clock

Bonari, the nurse with the bruised face, described in a social media post how she feared she would be infected during her work at the hospital. 

‘I’m afraid too, but not to go shopping, I’m afraid to go to work,’ she said. 

‘I am afraid because the mask may not adhere well to the face, or I may have accidentally touched myself with dirty gloves.

‘Or maybe the lenses do not completely cover my eyes and something may have passed. 

‘I am physically tired because the protective devices are bad, the lab coat makes me sweat and once dressed I can no longer go to the bathroom or drink for six hours.

‘I am psychologically tired, as are all my colleagues who have been in the same condition for weeks. 

The nurse also appealed to Italians to obey the quarantine rules which were announced on Monday in an unprecedented nationwide lockdown.  

‘I will continue to take care of and take care of my patients, because I am proud and in love with my job,’ she said. 

‘What I ask anyone who is reading this post is not to frustrate the effort we are making, to be selfless, to stay at home and thus protect those who are most fragile. 

‘We young people are not immune to coronavirus, we too can get sick, or worse, we can get sick. 

‘I can’t afford the luxury of going back to my quarantined house, I have to go to work and do my part. You do yours, I ask you please.’

A map showing the latest virus cases around the world, with Italy now recording the highest number of cases outside mainland China 

A medic wearing a protective suit and face mask works at a triage centre in Brescia, in the region of Lombardy which has been worst affected by the crisis 

Health workers at a checkpoint in Brescia in northern Italy, where the outbreak has become one of the worst outside mainland China 

Beds are laid out at a checkpoint in Brescia, with the number of people in intensive care also rising rapidly 

Elena Pagliarini, a nurse in Cremona, was pictured collapsed at her desk in a photo shared by industry website Nurse Times. 

The nurse had fallen asleep while still wearing her face mask and surgical gown with Italian hospitals ‘overwhelmed’ by the crisis. 

‘We are all tested in body and mind, seeing all those sick people, asking for help with our eyes,’ a fellow medic who took the picture said. 

‘We started at 8pm. We had been working tirelessly for over ten hours.

‘I saw Elena rest 5 minutes after hours spent running from one patient to another, trying to help yet another patient who came with a fever and respiratory failure.’ 

Medics have already described how hospitals are running at ‘200 per cent capacity’ with operating theatres hurriedly converted into intensive care units.

Doctors  have been forced into life-or-death decisions over who should receive intensive care, with virus cases piling up around the country. 

Non-coronavirus cases are being sidelined with some medics being given a ‘leaflet’ and told to perform specialist tasks for which they are not qualified, while some patients over 65 are not even being assessed, one doctor in northern Italy said. 

The doctor also issued a warning for the UK, saying that the Italian chaos would repeat itself in Britain ‘if you don’t take it seriously’. 

The warning was echoed by a second doctor who suggested people should be more scared, saying that overzealous warnings to remain calm meant ‘the danger of what is happening does not reach people’.  

An X-ray image appears on a screen at a medical centre in Brescia with many doctors and nurses working long hours because of the health crisis 

Health workers carry items into a medical tent in Brescia in northern Italy, which has been worst affected by the outbreak 

A health worker at a checkpoint and triage point at the Civile Hospital in Brescia, with hospitals being ‘overwhelmed’ by the coronavirus outbreak 

Medics treat a patient at a hospital in Schiavonia, in northern Italy which has been worst-affected by the coronavirus outbreak in the country 

Experts have suggested that the UK outbreak is around two weeks behind that in Italy, meaning Britain could be heading for a similar nightmare within a fortnight. 

Italy’s latest figures show that 631 people have died from coronavirus and 10,149 have been infected.

The 168 new deaths announced on Tuesday, representing a 36 per cent rise, the largest increase in absolute numbers since the contagion reached Italy on February 21. 

The number of intensive care patients has also risen by 144 to 877 nationwide. 

Italy imposed a nationwide quarantine on Monday night in the most drastic measures that any country has taken so far outside China. 

Prime minister Giuseppe Conte declared that ‘everyone must give up something to protect the health of citizens’ as he announced the lockdown. 

Anyone with a fever has been ordered to stay indoors, with travel banned except in emergencies, and public gatherings including weddings and sports fixtures shut down. 

Rome landmarks including the Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon and the Spanish Steps were largely empty on Tuesday, while the Vatican closed St Peter’s Square and St Peter’s Basilica to tourists. Police told holidaymakers to return to their hotels. 

Milan’s famous shopping galleries were also deserted, with Lombardy already in lockdown before the quarantine was expanded nationwide on Monday.  

Other European countries have also begun closing their borders to slow the spread of the virus across the continent. 

Spain and Portugal have suspended air traffic from Italy for two weeks while Austria ordered a halt to flights and trains from its neighbour and Slovenia said it would impose controls at its border with the country. 

Healthcare workers wearing protective suits, masks and gloves are pictured at work in the Amedeo di Savoia hospital in Turin 

A coffin is taken out of a hospital in the presence of two relatives and a funeral home employee in Venice yesterday, with funerals banned because of the nationwide lockdown 

British Airways has cancelled all its Italian flights, while low-cost carriers Ryanair, Easyjet and Wizz Air have scrapped flights from Italian airports until early April.

Air Canada took even more drastic measures, suspending flights to Italy until at least May 1. 

Italy’s government has promised £6.6bn to help mitigate economic fallout from the crisis, with ministers saying that the figure could rise to £8.7bn or more. 

The overwhelming majority of the fatalities and infections were still being recorded in the wealthy north, especially in Lombardy.  

The Lombardy government has been scrambling to increase its capacity, converting operating and recovery rooms into isolated wards. 

It has cobbled together 150 more beds in the last two weeks and expects another 150 in the coming week. 

‘Unfortunately we’re only at the beginning,’ said Dr Massimo Galli, head of infectious disease at Milan’s Sacco hospital. 

Speaking to SkyTg24, Galli noted that the numbers of infections registered in Lombardy last week were similar to those in Wuhan, China in late January.  

Top government ministers have been warning for days that Italy might not be able to cope if the disease began to rapidly spread through the south.  

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