Italy’s death toll from the coronavirus has surpassed China, with so many dead that soldiers were brought in to haul away coffins and health care workers said they stopped counting bodies.
Officials said Thursday that 427 new deaths were recorded over just 24 hours, bringing the COVID-19 death toll to 3,403, nearly 200 more than China, where the virus originated.
This comes despite the fact that Italy has 41,035 confirmed cases — just over half as many as China.
“Unfortunately we can’t contain the situation in Lombardy,” said Daniela Confalonieri, a nurse in Milan. “There’s a high level of contagion and we’re not even counting the dead anymore.”
“Look at the news that’s coming out of Italy and take note of what the situation is like,” she said. “It’s unimaginable.”
An army spokesman said 15 trucks and 50 soldiers had to be deployed to remove the dead from Bergamo, northeast of Milan, because the town cemetery had been overwhelmed.
Officials also sought help with cremations after the local crematorium was unable to keep up.
Italy remains in lockdown, and government leaders say they are considering even stricter measures to keep residents indoors to try to stem the spread of virus.
Police throughout the European nation said they stopped more than 1.2 million Italians and cited about 51,000 for violating the lockdown regulations over the past week alone.
“I hope there will soon be measures to restrict people jogging or going out for walks,” said Luca Zaia, governor of the Veneto region. “I’m sorry about that, but the alternative is intensive care, hospitalization and contagion.”