Italy's coronavirus outbreak: 'It was an apocalypse, a viral earthquake'

Dr Roberto Cosentini speaks softly but the weight of his words leave no doubt as to the hell he and his colleagues have endured in the past months.

"It was an apocalypse, a viral earthquake," he tells me.

Dr Cosentini is the Head of Emergency Medicine at the Papa Giovanni Hospital in Bergamo, the hospital where Covid-19 claimed so many of its dead.

He and his teams dealt with one of the worst outbreaks in Europe.

Their vast, bright, modern hospital was overwhelmed by cases.

Emma Murphy speaks to a patient. Credit: ITV News

He and others believe the late lockdown left coronavirus free to infect much of region and it was down to his teams to cope with the consequences. They lost patients, they lost colleagues and at times they lost hope - as what seemed like an endless stream of patients turned up desperately ill.

Things are calmer now but the Covid cases keep coming to the emergency department.

One of those diagnosed today was the husband of one of the nurses.

She had got sick a month ago now he has the illness. At 63-years-old Domenico Miracco knows he could have a long road to recovery ahead but he is clearly relieved that his time at the hospital came when patients are no longer dying in the corridors.

Flowers left outside the hospital. Credit: ITV News

Many of those who survived those terrible days are still in the hospital cared for now on Covid free wards.

They have shaken the infection but recovery is proving a slow and frustrating experience. Paulo is one of those patients.

Before he got sick he ran a restaurant and cycled miles every day. Now his withered legs struggle to hold him up and his breath comes in bursts rather like his energy.

He weeps as he tells us he has not seen his wife for 54 days.

He, like so many others, struggling with the psychological effects of an illness we probably know less about than more.

Italy has been a few weeks ahead of the UK on its coronavirus journey - so what message does Dr Cosentini have for his counter parts in the UK?

"Learn our lessons, prepare for very long recoveries, and prepare for proper follow ups. This virus attacks the whole system and is very hard to recover from."

As he faces more time without his wife that is a lesson Paulo is being forced to learn every single day.