Italian doctor who warned of medical supply shortages to fight coronavirus has now died from the disease

Police officers and soldiers check passengers leaving from Milan main train station, Italy, Monday, March 9, 2020. Italy took a page from China's playbook Sunday, attempting to lock down 16 million people — more than a quarter of its population — for nearly a month to halt the relentless march of the new coronavirus across Europe. Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte signed a quarantine decree early Sunday for the country's prosperous north. Areas under lockdown include Milan, Italy's financial hub and the main city in Lombardy, and Venice, the main city in the neighboring Veneto region. (AP Photo/Antonio Calanni)
Police officers and soldiers check passengers leaving from Milan main train station, Italy, March 9.  Antonio Calanni/AP Photo

Italian doctor Marcello Natali frequently sounded the alarm about problems with Italy's response to the novel coronavirus crisis.

He died Wednesday from COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, at the age of 57, health officials confirmed.

"The situation has not gotten better since end of February. We received some masks, some glove kits, nothing else. A mask that should last half-a-day here lasts a week," said Natali.

Italy leads the world in COVID-19 deaths, reportedly surpassing China 3,405 to 3,253 as of Friday morning.

Despite a nationwide lockdown since March 9, Italy's containment and prevention measures are foundering, much like those in the United States. Italy has reportedly surpassed China in deaths from COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, 3,405 to 3,253. 

One of the latest Italian deaths is 57-year-old doctor Marcello Natali, who repeatedly sounded the alarm about Italy's failing response to the crisis in media interviews.

"We weren't prepared for coronavirus," Natali, regional chief of the Federation of General Practitioners, told Euronews in one of the last interviews he gave before his death, published Thursday. 

Natali warned about the lack of medical supplies available for fighting the coronavirus, which is highly contagious — an issue of increasing concern in the United States as well. While treating patients, he couldn't wear gloves because there weren't enough to go around.

"They have run out" of gloves, he told Euronews.
After developing double pneumonia, Natali was transferred to a hospital in Milan. It is unclear exactly when he tested positive for the coronavirus. He died in Milan on Wednesday, officials from the federation confirmed.

By late February, 40% of doctors in his town of Codogno and nearby Casale — both part of the northern region of Lombardy, the first area to be placed on lockdown — were hospitalized or quarantined. Today, 110 of some 600 doctors in the Lombardy province of Bergamo are sick, said regional Federation of General Practitioners Secretary Paolo Padroni.

Around 8.3% of Italy's 41,000 coronavirus cases are healthcare workers, according to a report from the Gruppo Italiano per la Medicina Basata sulle Evidenze (Italy's Group for Evidence-based Medicine) published Wednesday.

"If we continue in this way we risk not only that there will not be enough doctors to assist everyone, but also that the same health professionals will become, despite themselves, a vehicle for infection," Giulio Gallera, chief of the Lombardy Health and Welfare Administration, told The Daily Beast.

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