DISTRESSING footage shows coronavirus patients in Italy wearing “plastic bubbles” on their heads while gasping for air.
The video was taken in an emergency ward in Bergamo hospital in Lombardy as the country’s death rate surged above China’s with 3,405 people dead.
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The “bubble” helmets and respirators help critically ill patients breath after COVID-19 has robbed their lungs of oxygen.
In the clip, hazmat suit-wearing medics are shown rushing between patients in a tightly-packed ward as the victims can be heard gasping for air while ICU machines beep continuously.
Doctors in the region are reportedly calling the deadly outbreak “the Apocalypse” as the country recorded 93 new deaths this week making it the new epicentre of the crisis.
While the pictures from Bergamo hospital may look like an intensive care unit, they were actually taken in a crowded emergency arrivals ward because the ICU is packed full.
Dr Roberto Cosentini told Sky News that COVID-19 is not like the common flu, saying: “No, it’s utterly another thing. “More pneumonia than flu…it’s a very severe pneumonia and so it’s a massive strain for every health system.”
He added: “Every day we see 50 to 60 patients who come into our emergency department with pneumonia and most of them are so severe they need very high levels of FIO2 or oxygen.”
Another clip which emerged yesterday shows dozens of gravely ill patients on ventilators in crammed-full rooms and lining the corridors — as the San Marco Zingonia Hospital battles to make room for extra patients.
The footage was filmed by a nurse in the intensive care unit in the city of Bergamo.
Shocking scenes show patients with coronavirus lining the corridors of a crammed Italian hospital during the devastating viral outbreak in the country
Italian journalist Selvaggia Lucarelli explained how the hospital is handling a lot of urgent coronavirus cases and most patients have “serious breathing problems”.
According to reports, proud citizens in the city paid tribute to medics by placing a large poster at the hospital entrance that read “you are our heroes”.
Bergamo is said to be one of the worst hit cities in Italy and the local authorities are currently building a temporary hospital to assist with the number of virus cases, according to local media.
Pina Onotri, general secretary of the Union of Italian Doctors, has reportedly sent a letter to the Italian government asking for all medics to be tested for the virus so they do not get infected by patients who are not displaying symptoms.
Reports said that two Italian doctors recently died of the deadly disease while hundreds of medics have been diagnosed with the virus.
Onotri also complained about the shortage of protection gear — especially face masks.
In Italy, 35,713 cases of Covid-19 have been confirmed and 2,978 people have died, while 4,025 made full recoveries.
In ongoing efforts to try and curb the ever-worsening epidemic, the country remains under strict lockdown beyond previous deadlines due to expire later this month and in early April.
In comments to the Corriere della Sera newspaper, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said measures taken to close schools, universities and to impose severe restrictions on movement would have to be prolonged.
Under current measures, Italy’s 60 million people are only allowed to travel for work, medical reasons or emergencies under an order that runs until April 3.
Meanwhile, most shops — except those selling food and pharmacies — are supposed to remain closed until March 25.
Troops are now removing bodies from a coronavirus-hit city which can no longer cope with the numbers dying.
Army vehicles have been brought in to transport dozens of coffins from Bergamo to cities and towns across the north of Italy.
Elsewhere, chilling pictures show coronavirus patients being treated in an intensive care unit in Italy by medics wearing hazmat suits.
Italian troops outside the central cemetery in virus-stricken Bergamo
Military vehicles are now ferrying corpses to cities across northern Italy
Coronavirus patients in an intensive care unit in northern Italy
The victims in Lombardy, northern Italy, are being treated by doctors wearing hazmat suits