Inside Italy’s COVID war on FOUR CORNERS

On Monday night, Four Corners brings you a remarkable film that acts as a forceful reminder of how quickly coronavirus can take off and spread.  

Presented by the Health Report’s Dr Norman Swan, this film from PBS Frontline takes you into the heart of Italy’s fight against the virus.

“I believe it’s an unfair battle. We have few weapons; the virus has them all. But with the few we have, we are trying to resist and fight back. It may be an unfair battle, but we are fighting it anyway. We won’t give up.”

Emergency room doctor

Earlier this year, as Australia began to lock down in an effort to stop the virus taking hold, Italy was in the middle of a full-blown crisis. The hospitals in the north of Italy were completely overwhelmed, providing a flashing red warning sign of what the virus could do in an advanced nation with a first-rate health system.

“I can barely cry. I don’t know how the patients can have such capacity to stay there, waiting for hours and hours, in some cases days, without knowing what their fate will be. And you really can’t give them an answer.” 

Emergency room doctor

One hospital in the thick of the pandemic, in the city of Cremona, allowed a camera in as the crisis was unfolding.

“While they were putting him to sleep, he said, “I’m scared I’m going to die.” I said, “No, we’re doing this to help you.” 

Intensive care unit doctor

The film follows the daily struggles of an inspirational doctor and her staff, as they battle to keep their patients alive.

“For a mother, a situation like this is devastating. She couldn’t see him, be close to him, hold his hand in the moment when he was intubated. I would’ve thrown myself on him like a blanket to protect him.  

Emergency room doctor

This intimate film shows how medical staff had to fight off emotion, fatigue and fear as the numbers continued to climb.

“There’s a fear of becoming infected and in turn infecting the ones who are closest to me. It feels like the virus is circulating and the circle is getting smaller. Now I’m worn out, I’m tired and I’m more scared.” 


The film is a testament to the courage and hope of medical staff on the frontlines of the pandemic.

“There have been some really dark moments of fear in which we thought we weren’t going to make it. This has united us and continues to unite us.”

Emergency room doctor

It is replayed on Tuesday 21st July at 10.00am and Wednesday 22nd at 11.20pm. It can also be seen on ABC NEWS channel on Saturday at 8.10pm AEST, ABC iview and at

FOUR CORNERS: INSIDE ITALY’S COVID WAR – Monday 20 July 2020 at 8:30pm on ABC and iview


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