For a long time, the Italians had hoped to get away with the second Corona wave more lightly. But the corona virus has the country firmly under control again. A Milan resident speaks to ntv.de about painful memories, a feeling of defeat and the noise of the breathing helmet. It is 6 p.m. and the meeting with Fabio Pirracchio, resident for respiratory diseases, takes place in front of the emergency room of the Milan Policlinico. The hospital is located in the center of the northern Italian city, right behind the university and less than ten minutes from the cathedral. Ambulances keep arriving. One has slightly larger windows through which you can see paramedics with corona equipment. The scene only lasts a fraction of a second, but it’s still like a fist in the stomach. Milan has become a Covid-19 hotspot, with 917 new infections detected here on Thursday alone. But you only feel the shocking drama of the situation when you see such scenes yourself.
“It’s worse than spring,” says Fabio Pirracchio, who works at the Policlinico in Milan.
Until recently, Italians followed the news of the soaring case numbers in Spain, France and Belgium and thought they would get away with this second wave of the virus. But appearances were deceptive, Italy was only later this time. On Thursday there were 16,079 new Covid-19 cases nationwide, 136 people died as a result of the viral disease. And like in spring, the virus strikes particularly violently in Lombardy: 4125 newly infected and 29 victims on Thursday. In addition, this time the virus is spreading very quickly in southern Italy, especially in the Campania region. With 1541 cases, it is just behind Lombardy. Even before you take a seat at one of the tables in front of a café at the university, the words gush out of Pirracchio. “It’s worse than spring,” he tells ntv.de. “Back then, if I’m not wrong, we had a peak of 6000 new infections a day, now we are at over 15,000 within 24 hours.” Pirracchio is 30 years old, comes from the Sicilian city of Catania and is doing his further training in Milan. During the first Covid-19 wave, he was assigned to the intensive care unit of the Policlinico. That sometimes meant up to twelve working hours in a row. But it wasn’t tiredness that bothered him. “What I still remember are mainly the first deaths, the anger and the powerlessness and perplexity that overcame us because we did not manage to save the patients.”
Feels like a defeat
These ghosts are back. And unlike in the first phase, there is now also depression. Admittedly, they have learned a lot by now, Pirracchio continues, they now know better how to deal with the patients and which medication should be administered. Nonetheless, it all feels like a major defeat. “Six months ago, when it all began, we had the hope, wanted them, that it was a temporary emergency and that we would wake up from this nightmare victorious. We stood on the barricades and fought. Now this is it Nightmare back and winter is just around the corner. No question about it, we will fight just as resolutely again, we won’t let ourselves get down. Only we’ve already been through all of this and that’s why it’s psychologically more difficult. ”
This street musician asks his audience to keep the necessary Corona distance from him.
The government, which is currently doing its best to prevent a new nationwide lockdown, also hopes that Italy will not let itself get down. That would also be a disaster for the economy – which appeared to be recovering remarkably well in the third quarter, with the Italian central bank forecasting an increase of 12 percent of GDP – a disaster of as yet unpredictable proportions. That is why Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has decided to proceed step by step, depending on how the situation develops. Since this Monday, pubs and restaurants have to close at midnight and you can only serve at the tables. If you don’t have any tables, you have to close at 6 p.m. In Lombardy, there has also been a curfew from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. since Thursday and high school students have to go back to distance learning. This measure is intended to relieve local public transport, which is currently heavily criticized. At some stops hang banners saying that the virus is not spreading because of the nightlife, but because of the overcrowded buses and trains.
Desolation, courage and team spirit
While the citizens adapt to the new restrictions, partition walls are being put up again in the hospitals and Covid stations are being set up. In Milan, the field hospital, which was built in March on the former exhibition center, is now being used again. There is no longer a shortage of ventilators. What is lacking in all of Italy, however, is staff, as the medical associations and the organizations of the nursing staff repeatedly complain. Andrea Affaticati was born in Vienna, but has lived in Milan for a lifetime. Biggest passion: to travel all over the country and let people have their say. Her motto: independence is the greatest good, therefore journalistically free. “To be on the safe side, we didn’t dismantle anything in my infirmary,” Pirracchio continues in his story. He speaks in a calm voice, but his eyes keep getting cloudy. He uses the disinfectant several times and only takes off his mouthguard when he’s sipping his cocktail. When asked whether he was afraid, he replied with no – or only a little, as far as his person was concerned. Rather, he is concerned about his parents in Sicily and those close to him. “However, these fears must not be brought into the hospital, because doctors and nursing staff are the only contact persons for patients in the intensive and sub-intensive wards,” says Pirracchio. “And we have to encourage them.” Good teamwork is therefore crucial, from both a medical and a psychological point of view. There are always moments of desolation and it is important to have someone around who understands what is going on in you and who has an encouraging word or gesture for you. Even now that the fight against the virus has started again and the breathing helmets are working again. “It sounds like tons of hair dryers plugged in”, Pirricchio tries to describe the noise. “I had almost forgotten this noise. And it caught me off guard when I heard it again, because it means only one thing to me: coronavirus.” It’s dark. The otherwise very busy street in front of the university is almost deserted, and only a few young people are still sitting at the tables. Milan is about to slow down again.
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