The bridge takes you throughout the Po river and into Lombardy, one other hour or so by the now abandoned streets of the trend and business energy home of Milan, and on to the medieval metropolis of Bergamo.

It is a simple drive on abandoned roads.

Just one factor niggles in your mind and makes you twitch as you contact your face or sanitise your palms, you’re driving in to the epicentre of the worst coronavirus outbreak in the world at the second the place extra folks have died than wherever else, even in China.

The preliminary outbreak right here wasn’t understood and wasn’t managed.

What is much less clear is why so many individuals are dying. It might be as a result of they’ve an previous inhabitants and a tradition of shut contact. But as a punter driving into the storm that is not precisely science. It’s extra a sense. It’s undoubtedly not awfully comforting.

I’ve been tasked with making an attempt to see how this nation, this area, this metropolis is coping with this lethal pandemic.

In Bergamo, the sound of ambulance and emergency car sirens is a continuing.

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The city has been in lockdown for days as the number dead continues to rise
Image: The metropolis has been in lockdown for days as the quantity lifeless continues to rise

The drivers and the medics are at all times in full hazmat fits. There is a lockdown, there aren’t any site visitors accidents or each day accidents to talk of, the emergencies are all to do with the outbreak. They are speeding to choose up the newest victims and to hurry them to already over flowing hospitals to attempt to save lives.

It is usually a dropping battle.

The previous walled metropolis of Bergamo is one of the most stunning of the many I’ve visited in northern Italy.

But the virus swept by right here in days.

The historical slender roads are completely empty. It most likely seems to be very a lot because it did when the plague visited this area centuries in the past. It seems like the plague, or how I at all times imagined it will, as a historical past scholar many years in the past.

Few folks enterprise outdoors. They do to purchase important provides. Mainly they keep at residence.

Everyone right here is aware of somebody who has died or is sick. Everyone is scared.

I referred to as out to Francesca Cassinelli as she scuttled in direction of her residence, nervous, drained and strung-out.

The region has a large older population
Image: The area has a big older inhabitants

She instructed me that the lockdown was laborious however that everybody accepted it needed to happen. Like so many individuals right here she mentioned she had seen the TV and requested why folks in Britain aren’t doing the similar as her and certainly all of Italy.

She was cheerful and stoic till I requested her if she knew individuals who have been sick.

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“Unfortunately yes, it is painful you cannot say goodbye. It is painful that they are on their own. I feel very sad. There is sadness everywhere,” she paused, apologising, as tears welled up in her eyes.

“Seeing friends and relatives dying slowly, seeing people that are doing such an important job saving peoples’ lives, and seeing that they cannot be saved anyway, it’s heartbreaking,” she instructed me earlier than persevering with on her approach to proceed self-isolation.

 In Bergamo, the sound of ambulance and emergency vehicle sirens is a constant.
Image: In Bergamo, the sound of ambulance and emergency car sirens is a continuing.

Here they imagine that the solely approach to cease the pace of the virus is to shut every little thing down. Only important retailers are open. All acknowledge it’s laborious however it’s, in accordance with the consultants right here, the solely resolution.

The man tasked with coping with this disaster, whereas defending his household and main his group, is the Mayor of Bergamo, Georgio Gori.

He paused to talk to me in the central courtyard of one the cities magnificent public buildings.

He is good-looking and dignified – and exhausted.

He imposed the lockdown and stands by it.

Mayor of Bergamo, Georgio Gori has been tasked with dealing with the crisis
Image: Mayor of Bergamo Georgio Gori has been tasked with coping with the disaster

He instructed me he desires the world to see what has occurred right here and to be taught from it.

They don’t wish to be guinea pigs of expertise discovered. But they settle for that they’re.

What he’s in absolute incredulous exasperation about is the failure of nations, and he singles out Britain, for failing to make use of the time they’ve needed to see what has occurred in Bergamo and put in all the measures mandatory to ensure it is not replicated once more.

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“I have two daughters, they are studying in England, one in Taunton in college and the other in Canterbury, she’s doing a Masters,” he instructed me.

“And when I saw what the English government was thinking about this problem, I decided to bring them back because I think that even if we are at the centre of the epidemic probably they are more secure here than in England, because I don’t understand why the government didn’t decide in time to protect their citizens.”

The overwhelming majority of these dying listed below are in the excessive danger aged group.

We purchased one of the native papers and turned to the obituaries web page. Usually it is barely a web page. Now the obituaries fill over 10 pages of single {photograph} portraits. And that’s day-after-day.

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Getting some solar having ventured out for the first time in days, I met a pair each aged 73, Serena and Michele. They by no means go away one another and so they meet no-one.

They instructed me to step away as I approached, however have been ready to inform me of their fears. I requested in the event that they have been scared.

“Still now,” mentioned Serena.

“Because we are in a place where the infection and deaths are increasing at the moment.”

Michele added: “We are trying not to panic.”

We requested them for a nonetheless {photograph}. Standing a metre aside they posed for us.

“It is so odd not being able to touch my husband,” Serena mentioned smiling.

The quantity of lifeless right here continues to rise. The authorities don’t imagine they’ve reached the peak but.

At the metropolis cemetery, instances are strictly allotted for the funerals of family members to happen. There is a big backlog.

We watched as a household gathered, most in masks, ready to be allowed inside. They walked behind a hearse into the burial gardens watched on by employees all in masks and carrying gloves. They are allowed to interrupt the curfew to pay their final respects.

I could not assist however suppose that it is a household and a funeral we all know nothing about. But many of us will seemingly expertise what they’re going by as effectively, and really quickly.