DISTURBING pictures show coronavirus patients being treated in an intensive care unit in Italy by medics wearing hazmat suits.
The victims are shown lying face down in the hospital in Cremona with wires and tubes connected to their half-naked bodies.
The facility is in Lombardy which is one of the northern areas on lockdown as Italian authorities bid to contain the spread of COVID-19.
In the north of the country, 16 million people face being quarantined in an unprecedented lockdown after the death toll hit 366 – the most outside of China.
Doctors in the pictures are shown wearing gloves, goggles and masks while patients are lying face down because studies show this provides more oxygen to the blood stream.
The outbreak in northern Italy has so overwhelmed the public health system that officials are seeking to bring doctors out of retirement and accelerate graduation dates for nursing students.
Lombardy is the epicentre of the spread outbreak, registering the first positive test of the northern cluster and now counting at least 1,254 of Italy's 2,036 cases.
Alarmingly, 10 per cent of the region’s doctors and nurses cannot work because they tested positive for the virus and are in quarantine, the regions top health official, Giulio Gallera, said today.
With officials expecting Italy’s numbers to continue rising for at least another week, until containment measures begin to show their effect, the health care emergency in Lombardy has reached a crisis point.
Hospitals in hard-hit Lodi and Cremona were so overwhelmed at times last week that they closed their emergency rooms and new patients were taken elsewhere.
Effectively some of the hospitals in Lombardy are under a stress that is much heavier than what this area can support, Dr. Massimo Galli, head of infectious disease at Milans Sacco Hospital, told Sky TG24.
Still, the north's intensive care sections of hospitals are still able to handle their case loads, the head of the national Civil Protection agency, Angelo Borrelli, told reporters Monday evening.
Some nine per cent of people diagnosed with the COVID-19 need intensive care, Borrelli said.
Lombardy’s regional government has asked the central government to reactivate retired doctors and nurses and get them back on the payroll.
In addition, nursing students who were due to take their final exams next month are now expected to graduate in the coming days so they can be immediately put to work, Gallera said.
“We'll take anyone: old, young. We need personnel, especially qualified doctors," Gallera told reporters.
THE FCO HAS WARNED BRITS AGAINST 'ALL BUT ESSENTIAL TRAVEL' TO:
- Lombardy region (which includes the cities of Milan, Bergamo, Como)
- Reggio Emilia and Rimini (all in Emilia Romagna)
- Pesaro e Urbino (in Marche)
- Vercelli (all in Piemonte)
- Padova. Treviso
- Venice (in Veneto)
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