Until a few months ago, Italy conjured up images of beautiful historic cities, amazing food and wine, and a magnificent coastline. Sadly, the relentless march of COVID-19 across that beautiful country has forever tarnished those images. We are now bombarded with scenes of desperate Italian healthcare workers working frantically to save lives, but losing hundreds every day.
Those scenes should serve as a stark warning to other Western countries that COVID-19 is by no means a “Chinese” virus killing people far away. Experts have warned that mistakes made early on have contributed to the desperate situation Italy now faces, and other countries who blindly repeat those mistakes will face the same consequences. (Related: Italy continues to be pummeled by the coronavirus: Deaths now top that of China, health care system pushed to the limit – is there even an end in sight?)
Italian hospitals and healthcare workers overwhelmed
With its population of just over 60 million, Italy has already lost over 6,000 people to this virus, with no end in sight. The United States, with its population of more than 327 million, risks losing far more of its citizens. Thus far, the American response to the disease has been slow, disjointed and ineffective, with different states handling the situation in completely different ways and no clear direction from above.
Perhaps if the powers that be would pay more attention to the desperate scenes captured in Italian hospitals, they would be more motivated to take the decisive steps needed to stop the virus in its tracks, right now.
The U.K.’s Mirror recently reported on the desperate situation in just one Italian hospital:
With the Bergamo hospital’s ICU completely full, medics – who are reportedly calling it ‘the Apocalypse’ – are seen dashing between patients amid the screech of air escaping tubes and alarms beeping trying to keep the infected alive.
The bubbles, which cover the entire head and cause staff great communication difficulties, attempt to equalise the air pressure in the lungs. …
Other footage shows patients on trolleys in wards, with reportedly every available space, including meeting rooms, being used for patients – with staff desperate for other nations to see what is happening and go into complete lock down or face the same.
There have been numerous reports of army vehicles seen moving dozens of coffins out of the city, as hundreds continue to die each day. The virus is spreading out of control, and hospitals across Italy are completely overwhelmed.
And recent reports indicate that the disease does not discriminate. While the virus killed mostly elderly patients in China, people across the age spectrum have been admitted to Italian hospitals in a critical condition, and the mortality rate is staggering.
‘No, it’s utterly another thing’
Asked by Sky News whether COVID-19 is just like the flu, Dr. Roberto Cosentini said, “No, it’s utterly another thing. More pneumonia than flu… it’s a very severe pneumonia and so it’s a massive strain for every health system.”
He added, “Every day we see 50 to 60 patients who come into our emergency department with pneumonia and most of them are so severe they need very high levels of FIO2 or oxygen.”
Anesthetist Dr. Lorenzo Grazioli added, “I have never felt so stressed in my life. … When you arrive at this point you realise you are not enough. We [have] 100 anaesthetists here, we are doing our best, maybe it’s not enough.”
Doctors in Italy have begged the leaders of other countries to wake up and learn from what has happened to them, before they, too, end up in the same situation.
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