Italy police recycle oxygen canisters from COVID-19 victims

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Mar 24 2020 02:42 AM

Coffins of people who have died from coronavirus disease (COVID-19) are seen in a crematorium in the town of Serravalle Scrivia, which like many places in northern Italy is struggling to cope with the number of deaths from the virus that is growing every day, in Alessandria, Italy, March 23, 2020. Flavio Lo Scalzo, Reuters

Police in the Italian city of Bergamo have brought much-needed help to people suffering from the coronavirus by redistributing oxygen cylinders used by people who did not survive the virus.

Bergamo, in the northern Lombardy region, is now Italy's worst-affected province, with over 6,000 infections. With hospitals overflowing, many sufferers are kept at home, but desperately need oxygen.

Police said they between Sunday and Monday they had recovered "more than 250 empty oxygen cylinders from the homes of people who died in recent days, or from pharmacies".

The cylinders were immediately taken for refilling, before being delivered to the homes of 250 sick people, the Bergamo force said in a statement.

Police footage showed officers in sanitary masks unloading refilled white canisters from the back of a police van into a parking lot, before being transferred into police cars for delivery.

Their efforts followed widespread cries for help from those fighting to survive the deadly respiratory disease at home, the police said.

More than 6,000 Italians have died from the virus since it claimed its first victim in the country a month ago.

Bergamo has so many dead that mortuaries are unable to hold them all and army trucks have had to deliver supplies of freshly-made wooden coffins.