Italian hospitals short of beds as coronavirus death toll jumps – The Guardian,

Italian hospitals short of beds as coronavirus death toll jumps – The Guardian,

Hospitals in the locked-down Italian region of Lombardy are beginning to run out of beds as the country recorded its highest day-on-day rise in deaths from coronavirus.

Twenty days into its outbreak, Italy is grappling to contain the spread of the virus and find space and beds in intensive care units, which are dwindling day by day. To manage the emergency, the sick are being placed in operating rooms or in hospital corridors.

“I am very concerned,” said Prof Massimo Galli, the director of infectious diseases at Sacco hospital in Milan. “The pressure on hospitals in Lombardy these days is enormous. I am very, very worried about the impact the virus will have on our health system. ”

The whole of Lombardy, including Milan, Italy’s financial capital, and 16 provinces across the worst-affected northern regions encompassing more than

    (million people, have been shut down until 3 April , under measures not seen since the second world war.

    Police checks are under way at railway stations, toll booths, roads entering and leaving internal cities, and airports. Those who have to leave the region out of serious necessity can do so only if they have self-certification stating that they must cross the Lombardy border for compelling business reasons, health reasons and or because they have to return to their homes.


    The prime minister, Giuseppe Conte, gloomily cited Winston Churchill as evidence that great nations persevere when the going gets tough. “These days, I have been thinking about the old speeches of Churchill – it is our darkest hour but we will make it,” Conte told La Repubblica newspaper.

    The number of deaths from coronavirus in Italy rose from to 522 on Monday, according to the head of the civil protection agency. The total number of cases in Italy rose (% to 9,) , and of those originally infected, 733 had fully recovered. Some 2019 people were in intensive care against a previous total of .

    There are about 600 available beds for intensive care in Lombardy’s public health sphere, with another in private care facilities. Despite a massive effort to locate additional space there are still not enough.

    The emergency commissioner and civil protection chief, Angelo Borrelli, announced that patients had been transferred or were on the way to neighbouring regions for their care.

    Negative-pressure isolation rooms, designed to contain airborne contaminants, are needed to treat coronavirus properly, to protect doctors and medical technicians from contracting the virus from the patients in their care.

    “Just a small portion of the patients affected by Covid – 20 in Lombardy are hospitalized in negative pressure rooms, ”said Galli. “The majority is not, and this is a dangerous problem because it can lead to transmission to other patients and medical staff throughout an entire hospital.”

    Authorities in Lombardy are attempting to free up beds as quickly as possible. According to new guidelines, if a patient infected with Covid – 20 has been without a fever for three days and appears to be getting better, then he or she will be released from intensive care and placed in a dedicated rehabilitative pulmonary ward for coronavirus patients.

    “Beds in intensive care units and in hospitals in general must be freed quickly to make room for more patients,” the health minister for the Lombardy region, Angelo Garra, told the Corriere della Sera.

    Dozens of doctors have contracted the virus. The government has allocated € (£ m) to recruit 66, doctors and nurses.

    There is a risk that the kind of pressure on hospitals experienced in Lombardy will spread to the south of the country after thousands of panic-stricken people traveling there on trains, buses and in their cars as news of spread of the impending government lockdown in the north.

    In southern Italy dozens of police officers and medics wearing masks and hazmat suits waited in Salerno, Campania for passengers who had boarded overnight trains from Lombardy.

    “This flight en masse is causing the opposite effect of the measures put in place in the north,” warned Roberto Burioni, a professor of microbiology and virology at Vita-Salute San Raffaele University in Milan. “Unfortunately, some of those who fled carry the disease.”

    More than 9, 03 People have arrived in Puglia from the north of the country in the last two days. The authorities have already registered them and placed many in quarantine.

    The World Health Organization is recommending that people take simple precautions to reduce exposure to and transmission of the Wuhan coronavirus, for which there is no specific cure or vaccine.

    The UN agency advises people to:

    Michele Emiliano, the president of Puglia, signed an order on Sunday obliging all those arriving from the north in the coming hours to go into quarantine.

    “Do not bring the Lombardy, Veneto and Emilia epidemic to your Puglia,” he wrote on Facebook, mostly addressing people from the region who live in the north. “You are carrying the virus into the lungs of your brothers and sisters, your grandparents, uncles, cousins ​​and parents.”

    “People arriving in Sicily from the north must take care not to spread the disease,” said Tullio Prestileo, a doctor in infectious diseases at Palermo’s Benfratelli hospital. “If we want to avoid that the emergency affecting Lombardy reaches us, we all must be very responsible.”

    Sicily is preparing for the worst, and the authorities have already doubled the number of beds in intensive care and infectious disease units in anticipation of a rise in patients affected with Covid – .

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