In Northern Italy, relatives of COVID-19 patients are demanding an investigation into the government’s response to the pandemic.
Since the countrywide shutdown in March, the virus has killed more than 34,000 people and the numbers are still increasing. Many citizens feel the government did not respond quickly enough and sacrificed thousands of lives in the process.
The city of Bergamo, near Milan, was one of the worst-hit areas during the pandemic. Though the first case was reported in the area at the end of February, the town wasn’t placed on lockdown until March 8th. Meanwhile, the town of Codogno also reported cases around the same time in February, but they were quarantined within 24 hours.
In April, local prosecutors were approached by a group called Noi Denunceremo, We Will Report, to open an investigation. They are looking into whether or not there is evidence of criminal negligence.
Noi Denunceremo’s deputy director Stefano Fusco said, “We need to know if someone who had the tools and the responsibility to contain the outbreak, didn’t act or did it, but in the wrong way.”
Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, Health Minster Roberto Speranza, and Interior Minster Luciana Lamorghese met with prosecutors on Friday in Rome. The three officials had two questions to answer: Why were the towns of Alzano Lombardo and Nembro not turned into red zone area when cases were first detected at the end of February; and why was Alzano Lombardo’s hospital closed, sanitized, and then reopened in only a matter of hours after the first case.
In response to the investigation, Prime Minister Conte said, “All investigations are welcome. The citizens have the right to know and we have the right to reply.”
Though the victims’ families are only seeking justice, many fear the results of the investigation will be used as a political weapon in the months ahead.