Rome CNN  — 

Italy is entering its fourth week of the worst national crisis since World War II with no end in sight.

More than 60 million people are living under an increasingly unbearable lockdown that is growing tighter by the day. The stores that remain open are shuttering earlier and police are patrolling in ever-greater numbers, chasing families out for walks back into their homes and ensuring no one is outside without a valid reason.

Even so, the number of novel coronavirus cases in the country is rising at a rate of around 3,500 new cases or more every day, and the death toll has topped 2,500.

The highest concentration of cases is in the north of the country, where the dead are being stacked up to be buried as funeral services are strictly prohibited. But the living are stacked up too, with coronavirus patients being treated in field hospitals and lined up in corridors inside the bursting public hospitals. Doctors and nurses are being infected, due to a lack of adequate protection.

Many wonder how this is going to end, and whether the economic cost of the lockdown is worth it. There are encouraging signs that the number of new cases in the original red zone in northern Italy may be leveling off, but experts say it is far too soon to consider this a reliable trend.