Italy has banned funerals. After patients with coronaviruses die alone, they are also buried alone

Italy has banned funerals. After patients with coronaviruses die alone, they are also buried alone
Written by David

An emergency national team in Italy has banned civil and religious ceremonies, including funerals, in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic – an outstanding feature for an overwhelmingly Catholic country. It is one of the many restrictions on gatherings that have been introduced to try to stop the spread of the disease in Europe’s epicenter.

While funeral gatherings are not allowed, officials have allowed priests to say a prayer at the funerals. But very few of the deprived can participate.

A man wearing a face mask stands at the coffin of his mother when a priest reads prayers during a funeral service near Bergamo, Italy.


So far, Italy has had more than 74,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus and over 7,500 deaths – the highest death rate in all countries in the world.

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Many coronavirus victims in Italy and elsewhere are forced to spend their last days alone in hospital isolation. Because of the high risk, family members and close friends must not come to them – neither to avoid getting infected or because they themselves are already under quarantine for being in contact with the person. And the isolation orders continue even after a patient dies.

“There’s a lot of fear,” said Ciano Gatti, a businessman in Lombardy, the most affected region in Italy. “We have introduced a directive to immediately close the coffin when someone dies.”

With these news measures, families no longer have the opportunity to make their loved ones look calm by brushing their hair, applying makeup or dressing them in a favorite costume before they are buried. Even placing a note in the coffin is rarely allowed.

Like many of them fighting the epidemic in the front lines, entrepreneurs worry about exposure to the virus daily. “We’re getting paranoid,” Gatti said. “Especially when we come into people’s homes or hospitals to retrieve the bodies.”

Despite having full protective equipment at work, many companies have become infected and caused staff shortages at a time when their services are in great demand.

“Many funeral homes have quarantined all their staff. My company’s manager died. Unfortunately, no one is immune to the virus. Not even those who work with these important jobs,” Gatti said.

A priest wearing a face mask checks a book of funeral rites as he gives the deceased the final blessing.


Coffins have been in Bergamo, a northern city with the largest number of cases in Italy piled up in churches because the local cemeteries are full. The military was brought in to relocate about 70 chests to less overwhelmed provinces for burial, Reuters reported.

Italy’s death toll from the virus hit a peak of one day at 793 on March 21. However, the country’s civil protection agency noted that the number of new infections has now fallen during the fourth day.

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