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(Image: EPA/RICCARDO ANTIMIANI)

It was the eighth story down on the home page of The Washington Post  last night, under a mildly ominous headline:

 In an Italian city, obituaries fill the newspaper, but survivors mourn alone.

Nothing in that headline hinted at the 1176 words of tragedy that followed.

Italians are “contracting [COVID-19] — and dying of it — more rapidly than anywhere else”: 368 new deaths reported last Sunday, another 349 died on Monday. At the time of publication, the most recent figure puts total deaths at 2503.

In the northern Italian city of Bergamo, residents describe “a ghostly place where only ambulances and hearses are on the road at night” …

… the crematorium has started operating 24 hours a day. Coffins have filled up two hospital morgues, and then a cemetery morgue, and are now being lined up inside a cemetery church. The local newspaper’s daily obituary section has grown from two or three pages to 10, sometimes listing more than 150 names, in what the top editor likens to ‘war bulletins’.

At almost almost any other time in history, a story like that would have created a tragic sensation.

Now, it’s a down-page story describing the banality of a nightmare.

Eric Beecher is the chairman of Private Media, the publisher of Crikey.

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