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Italian hospitals “inundated” with COVID patients

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Medical staff stand near a patient in the Covid-19 Intensive Care Unit at Rome's Institute of Clinical Cardiology on Thursday.

ITALY: “We are inundated,” Antonino Marchese says wearily as his Rome COVID hospital fills up with patients, most of them unvaccinated despite tougher restrictions for Italians who are not jabbed.

As daily coronavirus infections in Italy hit new highs, hospital admissions across the country are surging once again due to the new Omicron variant and the persisting reluctance among some to get vaccinated.

At Rome’s Casalpalocco COVID hospital, the situation has been serious for about a month, Medical Director Marchese said.

Of the facility’s 120 beds, 111 are filled by virus-stricken patients.

“We are inundated with requests for admission. It’s a constant pressure,” said Marchese, adding that he feared numbers would rise even higher.

Almost three-quarters of the hospital’s COVID patients are unvaccinated, and some resist intubation when taken to the intensive care unit.

“Then they generally accept because they realise how serious it is and then they can no longer breathe on their own,” he said. The majority of patients in intensive care are elderly, but younger people also fill up beds “because they have to be constantly and precisely monitored to see if they need to be ventilated”, Marchese said.

Throughout Italy hospitals are seeing a similar phenomenon.

Whereas 10 per cent of intensive care beds were occupied by COVID patients on December 17, that number has crept up to 13 per cent in the past two days, according to Italy’s National Agency for Regional Health Services.

Some regions are under even more pressure, such as Veneto, at 18 per cent, and Lazio — of which Rome is the capital — at 16 per cent.

Although 85.8 per cent of the country’s population over the age of 12 has been fully inoculated, there remain roughly six million unvaccinated over-12s, according to official data. “In my opinion, in Italy we’ve managed to steer the population towards a certain favourable vaccination trend,” said Marchese. “Of course, the no-vax people exist everywhere, even here.”


Saturday, January 1, 2022 – 01:00

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