The hospitals in the north are overloaded. It’s about avoiding a breakdown.
The Italian government is recalling retired doctors and nurses from retirement; it is hoped that 20,000 additional jobs will be filled very quickly. In northern Italy, the hospitals, particularly the intensive care units, are overwhelmed due to the coronavirus epidemic. Around 4,000 infections have been registered so far, 20 percent of all infected people need hospital care, half of them, i.e. 10 percent of all infected people, need intensive care – all in isolation departments. In Lombardy, around 200 new patients receive intensive care every day.
The existing medical personnel work at the limit, especially since ten percent of them are contracted by the coronavirus and therefore fail in part. There is a shortage of people at all levels of the medical operation, from doctors to nurses and ambulance drivers to cleaning women – these too need special instructions so that they can protect themselves from infection.
The number of cases in the south has been relatively low so far, but there is a risk of a collapse of the healthcare system if the rate of increase increases. Some hospitals are poorly equipped to treat patients with highly contagious infectious diseases, and there is a lack of isolation departments with specially trained staff. This threatens hospital infections and the failure of entire hospitals – which would make treating other illnesses or injuries difficult.
The government wants to avoid an emergency in the south. It is for this reason that Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte decided to close all schools and universities across the country – contrary to the recommendation of his technical and scientific advisory team. The measure is controversial among virologists because, according to the current level of knowledge, the virus is only spread little about children and in most cases they only get sick slightly.
All schools and universities in Italy have stopped teaching and major events have been canceled, including important football matches. Theaters, cinemas and discos are closed or have reduced operation. The measures triggered harsh criticism from business associations and football officials, as well as from some regional presidents. The government is causing panic, damaging Italy’s reputation abroad, strangling the northern economy, the accusations are.
Such concerns were partly understandable, partly the shrill accusations were simply motivated by party politics. President Sergio Mattarella backed the government on Thursday night’s television appearance, calling on cross-drivers to be responsible.
For the past two weeks, the responsible politicians have acted in uncertain and approximate terms, such as blind flying in the fog. They could barely assess the risks of the corona virus, and they lacked an overview. On the basis of unreliable, incomplete, contradictory data and recommendations, they had to make far-reaching decisions under time pressure. Under such circumstances, incorrect assessments and decisions can hardly be avoided. Correcting them is difficult in a climate of mutual blame.
Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte mostly kept a cool head in the crisis, he has gained stature in public perception. The government, which is not well established internally, has gathered itself and improved its position and reputation overall. Anyhow, what was done right and what was wrong in the fight against the virus can only be finally assessed in retrospect. The fight against the impending recession is now also beginning. It is assumed that the European Union will allow the Italian state budget to be overshot again. The Italian Economic Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni, an Italian, has already sent out corresponding signals.
The leader of the right-wing opposition, Matteo Salvini, did a bad job. At first he called for tight borders and accused the government of “not defending Italy against the virus”. Three days later, he accused her of using excessive measures to destroy the country’s economy. Then he tried to overthrow Conte, but found no allies for his opportunistic endeavors, not even on the right. Recently, the three right-wing parties have come up with their own proposals for dealing with the crisis, which they want to discuss with the government.
It remains to be seen whether the measures taken will stop the advance of the coronavirus. So far, the number of new infections has been steadily increasing. In view of the impending epidemic, the government in Rome initially ordered the isolation of two “red zones” and extensive precautionary measures in a “yellow zone” that spanned large parts of northern Italy. Here, public life came to a standstill for long stretches, Milan was like a ghost town for a few days.
The supply of the population in the red zones, a little over 50,000 inhabitants, could be maintained – with stringent protective measures for the suppliers. However, there is a shortage of medical personnel in the affected villages. Anyone who gets sick must not go to hospital because of the risk of infection. But you can wait a long time for a house visit.
The government’s orders sometimes directly affect people’s everyday lives and – at least temporarily – bring about a change in lifestyle and lifestyle. Many have changed their behavior in the past two weeks, on their own and without waiting for instructions from the head of government and the president. You increasingly stay at home. Outside you no longer kiss and hug, you no longer shake hands. You wash your hands often and thoroughly. People go out less, restaurants have fewer guests, cinemas have fewer spectators, and there is no more crowds (apart from rush hour traffic) on the metro and buses. So you can keep a certain distance from the others in public space.
However, worried are infected patients who do not keep the quarantine and stay at home for two weeks, but go out and infect other people. That obviously becomes a problem in Milan and Lombardy.