Coronavirus outbreak in Italian hospitals is a ‘tsunami,’ doctor says

‘The war has literally exploded and battles are uninterrupted day and night’

As confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Italy keep rising, one doctor at the center of the country’s outbreak has compared the event to a war that “has literally exploded.”

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Earlier this week, Dr. Daniele Macchini, an ICU physician in Bergamo, wrote a Facebook post explaining what it’s really like for doctors as COVID-19 rapidly spreads across the country.

“After much thought about whether and what to write about what is happening to us, I felt that silence was not responsible,” he wrote. “I will therefore try to convey to people far from our reality what we are living in Bergamo in these days of Covid-19 pandemic. I understand the need not to create panic, but when the message of the dangerousness of what is happening does not reach people I shudder.”

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Macchini’s Facebook post was translated into English and posted on Twitter on Monday by another Italian doctor, epidemiologist Silvia Stringhini.

In the series of tweets, Macchini explained how the situation went from bad to worse over the course of a week.

“I still remember my night call a week ago when I was waiting for the results of a swab,” he wrote. “When I think about it, my anxiety over one possible case seems almost ridiculous and unjustified, now that I've seen what's happening. Well, the situation now is dramatic to say the least.”

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“The war has literally exploded and battles are uninterrupted day and night,” he added. “But now that need for beds has arrived in all its drama. One after the other the departments that had been emptied fill up at an impressive pace.”

He said 15 to 20 people with the virus are admitted to the hospital every day, putting a significant strain on the E.R. and hospital staff, many of whom can no longer see friends or family for fear of passing on the disease.

“And while there are still people who boast of not being afraid by ignoring directions, protesting because their normal routine is ’temporarily’ put in crisis, the epidemiological disaster is taking place,” he wrote. “And there are no more surgeons, urologists, orthopedists, we are only doctors who suddenly become part of a single team to face this tsunami that has overwhelmed us.”

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Other than China, Italy had the highest number of confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the world -- 12,462, as of Wednesday. That number jumped from 4,636 on Friday, according to the Financial Times.

The outbreak in Italy has particularly hit hard in northern Italy, including Bergamo.

The Financial Times reported that Italy had only 12.5 critical care beds per 100,000 people in the country -- leaving it unprepared for the outbreak that is happening now.

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In response, the country implemented travel and social restrictions on Tuesday -- and continued with more restrictions on Wednesday.

On Wednesday, Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte said the country needed to "go another step'' by closing all shops and businesses except for food stores, pharmacies and other shops selling ''essential'' items.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.