No hugs: Italian Red Cross workers suffer from lack of human touch

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Geneva – Red Cross workers in Italy’s virus-hit Lombardy are extremely anguished, but they cannot get or give comfort because of strict hygienic precautions, Red Cross Francesco Rocca says.

workers are dealing with something unprecedented,’’ president of International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) said Friday from Milan, in a briefing for Geneva-based media.

previous day, Rocca met a volunteer who had just experienced a shattering personal loss.

“She said, ‘You know what, Francesco, I lost my mother this morning,’’ Rocca said, taking a deep breath.

“And I couldn’t hug her. She crying in front of me, two meters away from me.’’

Ambulance teams who are picking up patients from homes are experiencing how relatives cannot bid them farewell.

Wearing protective overalls, paramedics also cannot approach grieving relatives to comfort them.

Some families even opt against sending patients who are ill with Covid-19 to hospital for this reason, according to Giorgio Gori, the mayor of Bergamo in Italy’s northern Lombardy .

“In some cases, the families themselves prefer them to stay because they are afraid that they will not be able to say goodbye to loved ones,’’ he told foreign journalists .

“The terrible thing of this is the lack of physical touch,’’ said Rocca, who also heads the Italian Red Cross.

While a psychological help line for Italian volunteers has been set up, the public should also get psychosocial support, he said.

`It’s terribly needed,’’ Rocca said.

The risk of suicide is increasing among people during the , while drug addicts are turning to alcohol, he warned.

In addition, economically marginalised people are finding themselves without income.

“This is social bomb that can explode any moment,’’ he warned.