About half of the COVID-19 survivors from Bergamo, one of Italy's coronavirus epicenters, haven't recovered six months on, providing a stark warning of the pandemic's lingering aftermath
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Six months after the coronavirus hit Bergamo, Lombardy's worst-hit province, which was Italy's worst hit region, nearly half of the survivors still haven't recovered, and are dealing with a range of problems. Pope John XXIII Hospital infectious disease specialist Dr. Serena Venturelli, who is one of the doctors working on a study of COVID-19's long term effects, told The Washington Post, "Almost half of the patients say no," when asked if they were cured. Bergamo is the city where a harrowing video was released in March showing an overwhelmed ICU dealing with a wave of patients. At one point, so much oxygen was needed for 92 people on ventilators that oxygen had to be piped in using an emergency tank, according to The Post. It had about 6,000 COVID-19 deaths, filling 10 pages of a local newspaper, according to ABC News. At another point, the Italian military had to drive bodies to different provinces, because Bergamo's morgues were overflowing. The long-term effects study began in early May, and it is based on evidence gathered from twenty people visiting each day, who have their blood drawn, have hearts and lungs checked, and then discuss how their lives have been. Venturelli told The Post they felt a "moral obligation" to call the survivors back. "What we saw in March was a tragedy, not a normal hospitalization," she said. Dr. Monica Casati, who works in the same hospital as Venturelli, told The Post working in March, hearing people crying and struggling to breathe, was reminiscent of "Dante's inferno." Out of the first 750 people who were examined about 30% had breathing difficulties and lung scarring, and another 30% had blood clotting and inflammation issues. Doctors from the hospital told The Post there were a wide range of effects, including hair loss, severe fatigue, tingling, depression, memory loss, and pain in the legs. This is not the first time COVID-19 damage has been analyzed from Bergamo. In July, Dr. Roberto Cosentini, the head of the emergency department at Papa Giovanni XXIII Hospital told Sky News: "We see a significant proportion of the population with chronic damage from the virus." But doctors are not completely disheartened. Patients' breathing often seems to improve slowly despite permanent lung scarring, and no one has had a fever, The Post reported.Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: Inside London during COVID-19 lockdown
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