But now the virus is raging again, through Europe and through Italy, with a nail hitting again in the north but this time as well as in the south. In Campania, which includes Naples, the daily number of new cases observed is five times greater than the peak of March.
So the question became whether Italy bought itself enough time.
Compared to six months ago, there is more space to accommodate critical patients in southern Italy. There are more fans. However, many hospitals in the south remain underemployed, and have fewer beds per capita than those in the north. They can reach a break point if the number of critical patients rises.
The regional governor of Campania ordered the closure of the school until the end of October and threatened a lockdown if the numbers continue to rise.
“Are we acting it out?”; governor Vincenzo De Luca, wrote on his official Facebook page. “No, simply making a calculation that will prevent us from a crushing situation in our hospitals.”
During the first wave, Lombardy – the northern region along with Milan – had almost one-third of all infections. Now, it counts sixth, even though it has seen cases of sharp as well. Lazio, the area around Rome, has the largest number of people hospitalized in covid-19; Lombardy and Campania are next in the back.
Perhaps the most surprising aspect is how fast the virus attacks the south. Some regions went several days in the summer without seeing a single case. By mid-June, Campania had 125 people known to be infected. Today, it has more than 13,000.
For the past six months, southern southern Italy has been trying to prepare for the virus – and recovering from years of mismanagement of the hospital and financial cuts.
In Puglia, the large region covering the heel of Italy’s boot, the government has allocated specific hospitals and buildings to handle incoming coronavirus patients – a way to reduce the risk of contamination. Puglia has tripled the number of ventilators it makes in the spring, Pier Luigi Lopalco, an epidemiologist who consulted the region said in response.
But, Lopalco said, while Puglia has the capacity in the lab to process 15,000 coronavirus tests a day, it only has enough health workers to handle 5,000 or more daily tests . The region struggled to recruit doctors and nurses. Recently it tried to hire 30 nurses and could only find six.
“So many of these young nurses are now working on those [northern] regions, with very good contracts, ”said Lopalco, who will soon be the head of health of the Puglian government. “It’s not that easy to convince these people to come home.”
Campania has made its own preparations, including introductory accommodation units for people who have been discharged from the hospital but are still positive for the virus. Such facilities will allow the region a better opportunity to keep hospital beds open for the most critical patients.
But Giuseppe Galano, head of a regional association of anesthesiologists, noted that Campania’s health system has been plagued for years with mismanagement and running out of money – after being placed under a frozen external administration acquisition.
“Campania still lacks 200 to 300 anesthesiologists,” a job required for intubations, Galano said. “It’s a big handicap.”
Walter Ricciardi, a consultant to the World Health Organization in the Italian health ministry, said the south was “certainly unprepared” for an explosion of coronavirus cases.
“They have to invest money in improving personnel, systems, and in some cases they have not done so,” Ricciardi said, arguing that officials in some regions were complacent and minimized the risk of resurgence. virus.
“It’s sad,” he said. “For some regions in the south, if there is a similar wave of epidemics, the consequences will be more severe.”
So far, hospitals have not reached a critical point. The number of intensive care patients nationwide was seventh overall from the peak in March. But Italy’s national health institute warns that nearly half of Italy’s regions – both north and south – will see at least 30 percent of their ICU beds occupied by covid-19 patients within next month.
“I think we will have more and more [hospitalized] case, “said Lopalco, who said it was still possible that the restrictions could slow down the fever and prevent the situation.” The risk we run is that we need to shut down normal hospital activity. That is the danger we are trying to avoid. “
Italy last week was instructed to wear a mask even outside, and this week the time was cut short in bars and restaurants. Officials said the goal was to prevent the need for a second, unavoidable bruise, national lockdown. But they said there may be a need for localization or even regional lockdowns.
Some small towns, after seeing the rise cases, have been sealed. One, Galati Mamertino, a town in Sicily, registered zero coronavirus through the first six months of the pandemic.
Then, the first person got sick and tested positive, said Antonino Baglio, the mayor. The town carried out more wipes and soon realized that 122 people – including 2,600 in total – were carrying the virus. Most had no symptoms, but several nights ago, a 50-year-old who seemed to be in good health was rushed to hospital with a respiratory problem. The man’s father was also hospitalized.
Police and troops are now positioned on the roads leading to the town, controlling access. Some 600 people were isolated after contact with known positives.
“We thought we were free,” Baglio said. “Then, all of a sudden, you are thrown into its thickness and realize its tragedy and size. Consider everything again. You realize that it is very important to have a vision, and do not think we are immune. That’s what you see. on TV is absolutely true. And very burdensome. “