The health crisis in Italy's third largest city Naples is out of control, Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio says after a video was posted on social media showing a corpse sprawled in a hospital lavatory.
The unidentified man was a suspected coronavirus sufferer who had been waiting for a test in a packed, squalid hospital emergency room, which was also shown in the amateur video.
Health officials said they were investigating the death but Di Maio said this was just the latest shocking incident he had heard about in recent days from his native Campania region, which is centred on the Mediterranean port city.
"The situation in Naples and in many areas of Campania is out of control. The central government needs to intervene because there is no time left," Di Maio said.
Officials said Campania reflected a wider health calamity playing out across much of Italy's south, which emerged largely unscathed from the initial wave of COVID-19 that mainly battered the north.
But it is being hammered by the second wave.
The number of cases across Italy roared past the one million mark on Wednesday - with half of those infections emerging in just the last 19 days.
The number of deaths totals 42,953 - the sixth highest tally in the world.
Hospitals across the country have struggled to manage the skyrocketing COVID-19 numbers but the poorer south has appeared particularly ill-equipped to cope despite having all summer to bolster their defences.
The sick in Naples have been administered oxygen and placed on drips through their car windows as they wait for hours for COVID-19 tests or to be admitted to hospital.
Further south, on the island of Sicily, the mayor of Palermo warned on Monday his region faced an "inevitable massacre" as infections rose there.
"The north has always had a well-equipped health system spread out across the territory. The situation there might not be optimal but the south by comparison is a wasteland," Carlo Palermo, head of the ANAAO-ASSOMED doctors' union, told Reuters.