A 47-year-old paramedic who died after contracting coronavirus told his wife he was fine just hours before he passed away, Italian media have reported.
Diego Bianco, who worked for the Italian emergency ambulance service, passed away yesterday at his house in Montello, northern Italy, where he lived with his wife and their eight-year-old son.
The paramedic from Bergamo was tested for COVID-19 on Thursday after he and some of his colleagues developed coronavirus symptoms – but less than two days later he died.
His distraught wife Maruska Capoferri said the night before dying, at around 3.30am, Diego told her: “You can go to sleep, my dear, I am not going to die. I just need to find a comfortable position to fall asleep.”
She replied: “Why, do you think you are going to die?”
When he said “no”, she smiled at him and went to another room, L’Eco di Bergamo reports.
They were reportedly sleeping in separate rooms since the beginning of his symptoms.
At around 5.30am yesterday, Maruska went back to check on her husband – but his condition had started getting worse as he had breathing difficulties and then a heart attack.
Maruska, who volunteers for the Red Cross in Seriate, Bergamo, said she gave her husband a heart massage while waiting for the emergency services to arrive.
She added a neighbour of hers, who is a nurse, helped her with the heart massage – taking turns while the ambulance arrived.
Maruska said paramedics arrived about 20 minutes later and did their best to save Diego – who had no underlying conditions, according to his wife’s account – but he tragically died.
The woman said her husband, who had previously worked in a care home, had spent his whole life helping others – adding “it was his mission”.
The pair met about 15 year ago while volunteering for the Red Cross, then got married and had a son, Alessio, who is now eight years old.
On Saturday, March 7, Diego suddenly had a high temperature of 39 degrees Celsius and on Thursday he was tested for COVID-19.
The facility where he worked was closed and sanitised earlier this week after other rescuers experienced coronavirus symptoms and remained at home.
His colleagues said he “died within a day and a half, despite being healthy” because “if you work as a rescuer, you are in good health and constantly monitored”.
One of his fellow paramedics, Davide Brescancin, explained: “The thing that worries us the most is the carelessness with which rescue workers are abandoned to their destiny.”
Davide said rescuers, who are constantly exposed to the virus, are not safe and he called for stricter measures to protect workers and patients, according to Il Giornale .
Riccardo Germani, a spokesman for the health union Adl Cobas Lombardia, said: “Diego was a trained worker, a rescuer who has always used personal protective equipment, was not elderly and did not have any other diseases.
“He was one of the 700 health workers, doctors, nurses and rescuers who have already been infected.”
Before working as a paramedic, Diego was an ambulance driver at a care home in Bergamo – where his father had previously worked.
A colleague of him said he was “always calm, even during emergencies” and added he was very experienced.
The youngest person to die from coronavirus in Italy was a 38-year-old disabled man who developed breathing problems and had a high temperature.
Italy has seen a sharp rise in the number of COVID-19 cases, with over 21,000 confirmed this morning and 1,441 deaths, according to La Repubblica .
As contagions continue, 1,966 people have recovered and 1,518 are currently in intensive care.
The Italian Government has introduced tough measures to try to stop the spread of the virus, effectively putting the whole country in lockdown and asking everyone to stay at home unless absolutely necessary – which means it is possible to go out for work, health reasons or family emergencies.
Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said the measures are designed to protect the most vulnerable – and anyone leaving their house needs to provide a self-certification form to show authorities if stopped.
He said: “We’re having an important growth in infection… and of deaths.
“We all must give something up for the good of Italy. We have to do it now.
“This is why I decided to adopt even more strong and severe measures to contain the advance… and protect the health of all citizens.”