Video showing a corpse left on the floor of a bathroom inside an overwhelmed hospital shows the COVID crisis in Italy’s third-largest city is out of control, Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio said.
The footage of a man lying dead on the floor of the emergency room at Cardarelli Hospital in Naples, from what may have been COVID-19, has sparked outrage across the country, as health officials announced they are investigating the death. Government officials called for “immediate intervention” as the pandemic batters Italy’s south, which emerged relatively unscathed from the first wave of COVID compared to the north.
In the video, which scans an apparent hospital ward full of patients, the person filming can be heard saying: “This man is dead, this is Cardarelli Hospital. Here we are, the emergency department. This woman in her own [urine] and excrement, we don’t know if she’s dead or alive. The woman over there, we know nothing.”
Newsweek has chosen not to include the full video out of respect for families who may not know about the fatalities.
WARNING: Graphic Image
Italy’s ANSA news agency identified Rosario Lamonica, 30, as the person who filmed the scene. He was receiving treatment in the hospital after testing positive for COVID-19, the agency said. Rosario told ANSA: “I shot those images because I wanted to show that disgust: when I asked for help no one listened to me, there were also those who told me ‘mind your business’. I was in the hospital for two days for breathing problems. That person was with me in the room, along with other old people whom I, who was better, helped.”
In a statement, the hospital said a patient with a “suspected COVID-19 infection” was found dead in the restroom of the emergency room. The cause of death was still under investigation, the statement said.
Italy’s foreign minister Di Maio said the video was the latest shocking incident he heard about in recent days. “The situation in Naples and in many areas of Campania is out of control,” he said. “The central government needs to intervene because there is no time left.”
Hospitals across the country have struggled to manage skyrocketing cases, but the poorer south has appeared particularly ill-equipped to cope despite having the summer to bolster their defenses.
People with suspected COVID-19 in Naples have been given oxygen treatment and been placed on drips through their car windows as hospitals reached maximum capacity.
Queues of cars formed outside Cotugno Hospital as patients waited hours for COVID tests or to be admitted, with fears that there may not be enough doctors available to treat them. Further south, on the island of Sicily, the mayor of Palermo warned his region faced an “inevitable massacre” as infections continued to rise.
The number of cases nationwide have now past the one million mark – with half of those infections emerging in just the last 19 days. Italy’s official death toll now stands at 43,589 and is the sixth highest in the world, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
“The north has always had a well-equipped health system spread out across the territory. The situation there might not be optimal, but the south, by comparison, is a wasteland,” Carlo Palermo, head of the ANAAO-ASSOMED doctors’ union, told Reuters.
The latest government figures from 2018 show the divide in health spending between the north and south, with annual per-capita spending coming in at $2,400 in the northern region of Liguria and $2,330 in neighboring Emilia-Romagna, Reuters reports. In Campania, it was $2,000, the lowest in Italy, and $2,015 in nearby Calabria.