The tragedy of Italy in the Covid-19 War

On average, about 611 Italians die every day from Covid-19, now recorded more than 68,900 deaths, the highest in Europe and 5th in the world.

The number of deaths caused by Covid-19 in Italy is now second only to the US, Brazil, India and Mexico.

Italy, the first non-Asian country to be affected by Covid-19 this year, is now once again struggling in the world’s deadliest second outbreak.

The question is why Covid-19 in Italy is so much more lethal than elsewhere?

The reason is partly demographics, according to public health experts. Italy is one of the countries with the oldest population in the world, second only to Japan. Nearly a quarter of people in this country are over 65 years old, the age group is susceptible to death if Covid-19.

Besides, Italian families often consist of several generations, living together under one roof. This easily makes the elderly get nCoV from relatives, younger people.

Since the outbreak of the pandemic, 95% of Covid-19’s deaths in the country are over 60 years old, 86% are over 70 years old. Deaths in many countries are also concentrated in this age group, but Italy’s numbers are higher.

Coffin of the deaths of Covid-19 in the city of Bergamo, Italy, March 2020. Image: AFP

The data also looks bleak on a per capita basis. In the past two weeks, the country recorded 15.9 nCoV deaths per 100,000 residents, compared with 6.3 in Spain, 6.9 in Germany and 8.3 in France.

In March, the image of military trucks carrying the body of a patient Covid-19 out of Bergamo City had a strong impact, becoming a symbol of the ongoing tragedy in Italy, a warning to the part. rest of the world.

The incidence of nCoV in the country remains modest, even in early autumn, when the second wave of epidemic spreads across Europe. But when winter came, Italy once again faced a nightmare in March.

On December 18, the Italian government announced a new blockade plan during the Christmas and New Year holidays because of fears of overcrowded hospitals and possibly even higher deaths than January.

From December 24 to January 6, the bars and restaurants will be closed. The government also imposed a nationwide travel restriction. On specific days, such as Christmas Eve and weekends, most stores are shut down.

“Experts are extremely concerned that the epidemiological curve could increase during the Christmas holiday season,” Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said on December 18, explaining the new regulations.

Despite the policy aimed at protecting the elderly, the virus is still spreading in nursing homes, affecting people over 65.

But age is not the only reason why the disease crushed Italy. Antonella Viola, professor of pathology at the University of Padua, said the health system was over-expanded leading to a lack of human resources before the pandemic.

“Yes, the population here is old and frail, many people have a background disease. But that’s similar to the rest of Europe. The bigger problem is the way the local healthcare is organized. There are too few doctors. “General practitioners have to take over too many patients, can not care for one by one”, Professor Viola said.

In the spring, hospitals in the epidemic zone of northern Italy do not have enough beds to treat all people with severe Covid-19. To avoid a repeat of this situation, the government seeks to increase the number of beds in intensive care units across the country.

However, many hospitals grapple with the lack of doctors during the fall outbreak – the result of decades of spending cuts. Care service outside the hospital has not been improved. Public health experts say many regions have long neglected their local health care networks, including doctors and families. As a result, many patients do not receive support in self-isolation at home. Some people with severe Covid-19 arrive too late to be treated in the hospital.

Medical staff treating people with Covid-19 at San Filippo Neri Hospital, Rome, October 2020.  Photo: EPA

Medical staff treating people with Covid-19 at San Filippo Neri Hospital, Rome, October 2020. Image: EPA

Even the affluent Lombardy region, home to Europe’s best hospitals, a network of local doctors and small-scale clinics, is not equipped to care for Covid-19 patients at home.

“The health system prioritizes inpatient care. We have excellent intensive care, intensive care unit or transplant units. But local health facilities, preventive medicine. was placed in second place. This became more evident during the pandemic, “said Guido Marinoni, representative of the Lombardy Doctor’s Association.

According to the official data of the Oxford University research project, since the beginning of the epidemic, about 3.5% of Italians with a virus-positive result have died, a rate higher than that of any other European country. In Germany, the figure is about 1.7%.

The true death rate is significantly lower, experts say, because many people with nCoV have never been tested.

2019 figures from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development show that while Germany spends about $ 6,650 on health care per capita, Italy spends only half.

Thuc Linh (According to the WSJ)


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