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An Italian coronavirus nurse posted a picture of her face bruised from wearing a mask to highlight how much health workers are struggling

INSIDER logoINSIDER 3/12/2020 Mia Jankowicz
a man wearing a blue hat © Claudio Furlan/Lapresse via AP
  • A nurse in Milan, Italy, has described the physical and psychological toll of fighting the coronavirus emergency in her country, which has now recorded more than 12,000 cases and killed more than 800.
  • Alessia Bonari posted on Instagram a photo of her face looking chafed and bruised from wearing a face mask that she worries doesn't fit properly.
  • Frontline Italian medical staff are working long hours, in grueling conditions, and with low supplies to fight the outbreak.
  • Italy was put under a nationwide lockdown on Tuesday. Bonari asked her followers to support medical workers by sticking to the quarantine because "we too can get sick."
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A nurse tending to coronavirus patients in Milan, Italy, has described the exhaustion, fear, and grueling conditions that medical workers in her country are facing.

Alessia Bonari posted on Instagram a photo of her face, chafed and bruised from wearing a mask, and described the physical and psychological toll that fighting the coronavirus has taken on her. 

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Alessia Bonari (@alessiabonari_) on Mar 9, 2020 at 3:22am PDT

"I am physically tired because the protective devices are bad, the lab coat makes me sweat, and once dressed, I can no longer go to the bathroom or drink for six hours," she said. 

She also noted her fears while tending to patients: "I'm afraid because the mask may not adhere well to my face, or I may have accidentally touched myself with dirty gloves, or maybe the lenses do not completely cover my eyes and something may have passed." 

a person standing in front of a building © Claudio Furlan/LaPresse via AP Italy is the new epicenter of the pandemic, with the total number of cases surpassing 12,000 and deaths reaching 827 as of Thursday morning. The northern region of Lombardy, where Milan is located, has been hit hardest by the outbreak.

The country has been put under a total lockdown since Tuesday, with strict rules put in place for citizens' movement.

a sign on the side of a building © Flavio Lo Scalzo/Reuters Bonari's testimony chimes with reports emerging from Italy of grueling conditions for medical workers, who have been working exceptionally long shifts and face shortages of beds and equipment. Workers have been forced to choose which coronavirus patients they can save, and are prioritizing the young and relatively healthy.

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has asked citizens to stay at home and travel only if they have police permission, and announced on Wednesday night that all businesses apart from grocery stores, pharmacies, and shops selling "essential" goods must be shut.

Nonetheless Bonari said she was "proud and in love" with her job, and asked others to commit to the government's instructions to avoid further spread of the virus.

"What I ask anyone who is reading this post is not to frustrate the effort we are making, to be selfless, to stay at home and thus protect those who are most fragile," she wrote.

Bonari pointed out that while citizens may be afraid to go shopping, "I'm afraid to go to work." 

a boat sitting on top of a building © Massimo Pinca/REUTERS The groups most at risk of being seriously affected by the disease are primarily older people and those with pre-existing conditions, according to the World Health Organization. It may be a factor in how Italy has been hit, as the country has one of the world's oldest populations.

But as Bonari pointed out, "we [young people] too can get sick."

She added: "I can't afford the luxury of going back to my quarantined house, I have to go to work and do my part. You do yours, I ask you please." 

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