Much has been said of the current situation in northern Italy, Europe’s coronavirus epicentre, but shocking audio of two Milanese doctors speaking on WhatsApp about the state of their hospitals has helped shine a clearer, horrible light on it all.
In the recordings which were reportedly meant to warn fellow Italian doctors – primarily those in the capital of Rome the south of Lombardy – of a potential incoming outbreak in their region, two doctors warn of ‘tragic’, ‘dramatic’ and ‘unimaginable’ situations.
“All operations have been cancelled, GP surgeries closed so the that the GPs can come in and be ward doctors,” the first doctor, who said he works at the massive Niguarda Hospital, explained. “The number of ICU beds has been tripled. There was even pressure to take over our Cardiac ICU.”
“All the resuscitation bays are full. They’re having to triage, deciding who to intubate and who to let die.”
“You have no idea how many young people are here, I mean even 20-year-olds with no underlying conditions, in need of assisted breathing because of horrible pneumonia,” the doctor continued. “There aren’t the resources to screen doctors for Covid-19 anymore – they’re just telling them ‘stay home if you have symptoms, otherwise come to work’.”
“Non-specialised medical graduates are being brought in. At Milan’s Policlinico hospital, they are dealing with 50 new pneumonia cases every day”.
A second doctor – who identified herself as Martina – said her hospital had already started having to choose who to treat.
“A lot of patients need help with breathing but there are not enough ventilators,” she says in the recording, sounding visibly exhausted and close to tears. “They’ve told us that starting from now we’ll have to choose who to intubate – priority will go to the young or those without comorbidities.
Some believe this doctor is a certain Martina Crivellari, an intensive care cardiac anaesthesiologist at the San Raffaele Hospital in Milan.
“It’s true that most deaths are old with existing conditions with existing conditions, but there are a lot of young people in our Intensive Care Units (ICUs),” she adds. “Our youngest is a 38-year-old with no comorbidities (underlying health problems).”
“A lot of patients need help with breathing but there are not enough ventilators. They’ve told us that starting from now we’ll have to choose who to intubate – priority will go to the young or those without comorbidities.”
“At Niguarda, the other big hospital in Milan, they are not intubating anyone over 60, which is really, really young,” Martina continues.
“This virus is so infectious, that the only way to avoid a ‘massacre’ is to have the least number possible getting infected over the longest possible timescale.”
Warning of a lack of ventilators – which are essential to helping patients breathe as their immune system struggles to fight the virus – Martina goes on to describe the potentially catastrophe if Italy’s situation worsens.
“Right now, if we get 10,000 people in Italy in need of ventilators – when we only have 3,000 in the country – 7,000 people will die,” she warned.
“Rome right now is like where Milan was 10 days ago,” she adds. “In 10 days, there has been an incredible escalation. “Lombardy, which has the best healthcare in the country, is collapsing, so I don’t dare to think what would happen in less efficient regions.”
“We’ve had no critical cases among children – viruses are much less aggressive with them, like chickenpox or measles,” she said. “But the very young are crazy carriers. ”
“A child with no symptoms will go to visit the grandparents and basically kill them.”
Italy is currently ranked second in the whole world for health care provision in WHO’s list, and with Lombardy being one of the richest regions in the countries, many regions and other countries are worried what a similar situation as that happening in Milan right now would mean back at home.
The whole country of Italy remains under lockdown, with yesterday’s drastic measure seeing the closure of all businesses except for pharmacies and grocery stores.
“The country needs the responsibility of each of us, the responsibility of 60 million Italians who make small sacrifices every day for the duration of this emergency,” Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said addressing the nation on Wednesday.