Turkey should prepare for large coronavirus numbers, Italian doctor warns

A doctor from Bergamo, one of the Italian cities hardest hit by the novel coronavirus, has warned Turks that they could see just as devastating an epidemic as Italy has if swift action is not taken, German state broadcaster Deutsche Welle’s Turkish language page reported.

The Turkish government reported the country’s 1,872nd case and 44th death from the coronavirus on Tuesday. But that could rise to similar levels to Italy, which recorded 743 deaths in one day on Tuesday, said Dr. Luca Lorini of Bergamo’s Pope John XXIII Hospital, unless the government imposes tighter measures and Turks stay at home.

As the virus spread, Italy imposed a series of lockdowns weeks ago before the government imposed a full lockdown on March 9. But in Turkey, the curfew is enforced only for elderly and vulnerable people, while the government advises other citizens to stay at home, except for essential business.

“My dear Turks, I could show you images to convince you of all the many coffins we have to take to cemeteries every day. Our crematoriums can’t keep up any more,” Lorini said.

“Each day you stay at home, you are saving dozens, hundreds, even thousands of lives,” he said. “You must demand that the government imposes a lockdown without waiting for them to do so.”

Lorini said that during the peak of coronavirus cases, his hospital’s intensive care unit was receiving up to 100 patients per day, but that rate had fallen to between 55 and 60.

One of the main factors leading to the virus’s rapid spread in Bergamo was a crowded Champions’ League match between the city’s Atalanta football club and Valencia on Feb. 19, the doctor said.

But another main reason was how late the tight restrictions came to the city.

“I wish they had come 15 days earlier,” he said. “The dead would have preferred that too.”