In the wave of coronavirus quarantines that have swept across the world in recent months, medical systems have become overwhelmed by the number of cases that required hospitalization. In many places, doctors and nurses were put in a terrible position of needing to ration medical care and decide who gets a ventilator and who doesn’t. In many cases, it ends up being elderly, disabled, and immunocompromised people who are the first to miss the cut and be denied service.
In Spain, which is now beginning to see its first major clusters of the virus, reports have emerged of older residents in nursing homes being left completely abandoned to pass away in their beds.
During a television interview on Monday, Spanish Defense Minister Margarita Robles said that the Spanish military found many nursing homes that were filled with bodies of older residents who had been left there. The bodies were found as the Spanish military was cleaning and disinfecting residential areas. However, the minister did not reveal the exact location of the nursing homes or how many bodies were found.
Robles said that the staff in some of these nursing homes abandoned the facilities when learning that there were cases of the coronavirus among the tenants, and promised that those who are responsible for what happened will be held accountable.
“We will be completely relentless and forceful with the kind of treatment elderly residents receive in these centers,” Robles said, adding that “I know that a vast majority [of centers] are fulfilling their obligations.”
On Sunday, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez announced that the Spanish government plans to extend its state of emergency for another 15 days, because the number of cases and fatalities have continued to soar in the county.
The number of new coronavirus cases in Spain jumped from 33,089 on Monday to 39,673 on Tuesday, according to the health ministry. The number of fatalities in the country rose from 2,182 to 2,696 overnight, the ministry told Reuters.
Similar situations where people were left to fend for themselves during the lockdowns were also reported in Italy last week.
This issue was first raised at the very beginning of the outbreak in Italy, in a viral video that was shared by an Italian actor and mixed martial arts trainer by the name of Luca Franzese.
Content warning: distressing video from Italy.
Luca Franseze appeals for help after death of his sister Theresa, 47, at home surrounded by family.
Theresa ultimately tested positive for Covid19 Coronavirus. The emergency response team is now quarantined. https://t.co/pcs7aD1d8G pic.twitter.com/QGfRlgRToW
— Naomi O'Leary (@NaomiOhReally) March 9, 2020
Luca is the brother of a 47-year-old woman who died at home. She was generally healthy, although she did have epilepsy. After her death, he was trapped in the house with her because no one would come and get her. In his video, he said that he has waited for over a day for authorities to come and help him. He posted a terrifying video to social media pleading with authorities to come and do something.
This was not an isolated incident. There were other Italian citizens who faced similar traumatizing experiences during the lockdown. According to CNN, a woman who was quarantined in Italy was forced to stay in her apartment with her husband’s dead body for over a day.