SEATTLE, Washington — COVID-19 shook the entire world, regardless of economic development. In fact, the pandemic’s intensity managed to overpower Italy’s healthcare system, one of the best global health systems in the world. Italy fell prey to COVID-19 due to three main reasons.
3 Reasons for Italy’s COVID-19 Spread
- Lack of Hospital Beds: Italy has about “3.2 hospital beds per 1,000 people”, higher than many other countries such as the U.S. (2.8 per 1,000). Unfortunately, this supply of beds proved inadequate given the rapid progress of the disease in a matter of days. This left a significant amount of people without the ability to procure treatment.
- Rapid Spread of COVID-19 in Hospitals: The scarcity of resources posed a very serious issue due to the short period in which required measures went into effect. Coronavirus patients occupied almost all hospital beds in the ICU while being hooked up to the available ventilators. The spread of the disease is incredibly high in hospitals given the vulnerability of patients. This has only increased the number of people affected by the disease.
- Infection of Hospital Workers: Italy’s healthcare system has also suffered from a lack of healthy nurses and doctors. There is a greater need for hospital personnel to work overtime and administer procedures to those infected. This has greatly contributed to the spread of COVID-19. Twenty to 30% of hospital workers were infected and had to go into isolation immediately, making labor resources even more scarce.
Italy’s Solutions for COVID-19 Containment
- Treating patients at home: The pandemic required that Italy reserve nearly 70% of the beds in the ICU for those affected. This leaves less room for people affected by other diseases. Treating people in the comfort of their own homes leaves space for other patients and also limits the spread of diseases as hospitals are high “sources of [coronavirus]infection.”
- Emergency funds: Italy implemented an emergency decree in March that provided 3.5 billion euros to help the healthcare sector secure more resources. Furthermore, it suspended all firing procedures, thus decreasing the potential loss of laborers. While this suits the present, it does not solve issues in the long run. Doctors adopted alternate ICUs to compensate for the shortage. Furthermore, the Italian College of Anesthesia, Analgesia, Resuscitation and Intensive Care released strict guidelines to be administered under extreme circumstances.
- Technology development: While Italy continues to bounce back slowly as cases decline, researchers are focusing on developing an app that lets the user know if they are near an infected person. It logs “all users a person has been in contact with via low-energy Bluetooth technology,” according to one Aljazeera article. People are raising concerns about privacy and surveillance. However, researchers are finding their way around it by developing apps that do not require particularly sensitive data.
While the pandemic managed to weaken the world, time will allow countries to restore stability as a whole. Italy’s healthcare system has certainly faced new territory in 2020. However, there is no doubt Italy will be one of the first economies to lead the world into full recovery.
– Mridula Divakar