imyeyes-banner-sqIn My EyesBy Edward B. Antonio

A queue of corpses

The United States and Europe are now the epicenters of the dreaded COVID 19, fellas.

As of this writing, the United States already has more than 330,000 cases and almost 10,000 deaths rapidly increasing. Spain has more than 130,000 with almost 13,000 death while Italy is close to 130,000 cases and around 16,000 deaths and increasing, too.

US President Donald Trump has warned all Americans to brace up – for the worst is yet to come up.

The question is, where do all these corpses go, fellas?

Last March 29, Spain recorded 838 deaths in 24 hours.

The South China Morning Post reports:

Spain is to deploy its armed forces to help transport the bodies of those killed by the coronavirus, as the country recorded its highest single-day death toll.

The Spanish military would have to intervene due to an overwhelming number of dead and the lack of available funeral homes, according to a statement published in the country’s official gazette.

The move came as Spain confirmed another 838 deaths in 24 hours from coronavirus.

Madrid remains the most severely affected region, accounting for almost half of all deaths in the country.

Italy’s woes remain great, fellas.

Reports say that Italy’s mortuary industry is overwhelmed, and the number of dead keeps rising.

A funeral parlor employe says: “There’s a queue outside our funeral home in Cremona. It’s almost like a supermarket.”

Hospital morgues in northern Italy are inundated. Coffins awaiting burial are lining up in churches and the corpses of those who died at home are being kept in sealed-off rooms for days as funeral services struggle to cope in Bergamo, the Italian province hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

Caskets are piling up in churches. In Bergamo, which has the highest number of cases in Italy, the military has had to step in because the city’s cemeteries are now full. Locals watched in silence as a convoy of army trucks slowly drove more than 70 coffins through the streets. Army vehicles have been brought in to move dozens of coffins from Bergamo to other regions, according to Ansa news agency.

It comes as Italy recorded more total virus deaths than China. Italy has now around 16,000 deaths and increasing.

“The crematorium of Bergamo, working at full capacity, 24 hours a day, can cremate 25 dead”, said a spokesperson for the local authority. “It is clear that it could not stand up to the numbers of the past few days.”

Italy has banned funerals because of the coronavirus crisis. For many, the virus is now robbing families of the chance to say a final goodbye.

“This pandemic kills twice,” says Andrea Cerato, who works in a funeral home in Milan. “First, it isolates you from your loved ones right before you die. Then, it doesn’t allow anyone to get closure.”

Many victims of Covid-19 are dying in hospital isolation without any family or friends. Visits are banned because the risk of contagion is too high. While health authorities say the virus cannot be transmitted posthumously, it can still survive on clothes for a few hours. This means corpses are being sealed away immediately.

 “So many families ask us if they can see the body one last time. But it’s forbidden,” says Massimo Mancastroppa, an undertaker in Cremona.

The dead cannot be buried in their finest and favourite clothes. Instead, it is the grim anonymity of a hospital gown.

But Massimo is doing what he can.

“We put the clothes the family gives us on top of the corpse, as if they were dressed,” he says. “A shirt on top, a skirt below.”

In this unprecedented situation undertakers are suddenly finding themselves acting as replacement families, replacement friends, even replacement priests.

People close to those who die from the virus will often be in quarantine themselves.

“We take on all responsibility for them,” says Andrea. “We send the loved ones a photo of the coffin that will be used, we then pick up the corpse from the hospital and we bury it or cremate it. They have no choice but to trust us.”

The hardest thing for Andrea is not being able to ease the suffering of the bereaved. Instead of telling families all the things he can do, he is now forced to list everything he is no longer allowed to do.

“We can’t dress them up, we can’t brush their hair and we can’t put make up on them. We can’t make them look nice and peaceful. It is very sad.”

The number of corpses arriving at crematoria in the north of Italy has doubled since the coronavirus outbreak began and the plants in the north of Italy are overwhelmed, even those that work seven days a week, 24 hours a day.

Altair is Italy’s leading company in crematoria, with 17 plants, mainly in the north of Italy.

Michele Marinelli, spokesman for Altair, said this emergency situation has caused a level of saturation in the plants that has never been seen before.

Marinelli said cremation takes place for all the corpses for which the dead person or his relatives have requested it. The problem now is, he added, that in some areas of the north of the country, cremations have exceeded 50-60 percent, that is for every 100 deaths, 50-60 cremations are requested.

Marinelli said in areas like Bergamo and Brescia where the number of dead has been particularly high, army trucks had to be called in to assist to take the corpses to other regions where they could be cremated.

Relatives of those killed by COVID-19 are also unable to grieve for their loved ones as they would like to.

In addition to the death of someone in the family, which is in itself dramatic, Marinelli noted that there is also the impossibility of being able to bid farewell to them by holding a funeral. He said this is a situation that Italy has never experienced.

These are the situations in other parts of the world, fellas.

We pray these won’t happen to us.

God, save us!