The tragic extent of Italy’s coronavirus emergency was thrown into stark relief on Wednesday when it emerged a nurse took her own life after being traumatised by her experience in trying to save lives.
Daniela Trezzi, 34, was left deeply upset by what she had seen fighting the virus.
She had been working in a hospital in the northern town of Monza.
Calling the death “a terrible episode”, a federation spokesman said: “What Daniela had witnessed recently contributed heavily… it was the straw that broke the camel’s back.”
They noted another nurse took her own life in Venice a week ago and warned “in these stressful conditions, these may not be the last”.
The federation initially said Trezzi had tested positive to coronavirus and was mortified she may have infected others, but that was denied last night by the hospital director.
Another 683 people who had the virus died in Italy on Wednesday, bringing the country’s death toll to 7503. But the daily figure was down from the 743 people who died on Tuesday.
The total number of confirmed cases in Italy jumped by 5200 to nearly 75,000, most of them in the north of the country. Nearly 10,000 people have fully recovered.
More than 5000 Italian health workers have been infected with the coronavirus, with unions saying doctors and nurses urgently needed more protection equipment.
Around 30 doctors have died, including some who came out of retirement to help exhausted hospital staff.
Civil Protection Agency head Angelo Borrelli, a key figure in the campaign against the virus, has come down with a fever and is being tested.
The Catholic Church has also been hard hit by the pandemic – 67 priests have died since last month. The youngest was 53.
Earlier this month Pope Francis appealed to clergy “to have the courage to go out and see the sick” despite the risk of priests contracting the virus themselves.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) said the contagion in Italy could peak this week.
“The slowing in the pace of growth is an extremely positive factor, and in some regions I believe we are close to the drop-off point of the curve, therefore the peak may be reached this week and then fall away,” Ranieri Guerra, WHO’s deputy director, said.
Meanwhile, a small town in the southern region of Puglia used hay bales to block access to outsiders, saying it has had no infections and wanted to remain that way.
“We don’t have many road barriers so we resorted to the raw materials of our community,” said Giovanni Campese, the mayor of Monteleone di Puglia.