AN ITALIAN doctor on the coronavirus frontline has told of his impossible choice to have to let patients die as Italy runs out of oxygen.
Dr Michele Boldrini, 33, said Italians are now “dying alone” amid a national hospital bed and oxygen shortage.
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Speaking to Metro.co.uk from Milan, Dr Boldrini – a Consultant in Urgency and Emergency at the Emergency Department in San Carlo Borromeo Hospital – says he has never faced such tough decisions so frequently as the current coronavirus pandemic.
Dr Boldrini, who has worked in hospitals since 2012, revealed he has to ‘let people go’ each day as the crisis continues.
He said: “I still spend my days deciding who is eligible for intensive care, who to let go, and who to treat with intermediate devices.”
The doctor said he was diagnosing severe cases of pneumonia multiple times a day – a diagnosis he would usually only see “4 times in a year.”
Dr Boldrini also claimed there are simply not enough medical supplies at hand to treat the ever increasing victims of the deadly disease.
He added that if the epidemic continues to spread at its current rate, “the number of oxygen devices and beds is finite: most future deaths will happen because there won’t be enough for everybody.”
Only patients with a high fever and who need significant levels of oxygen support are currently hospitalised in Italy, where so far 6,820 have died from the virus that has infected 69,176 people.
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The outbreak is so severe, Italy has now seen double the number of confirmed COVID-19 deaths than China – where the virus originated in January.
A large number of those struck down by the deadly disease include the country’s elderly population.
Dr Boldrini explained it is in treating the elderly patients where his most difficult decision lies, and many are tragically left to “die alone” due to the country’s isolation laws.
He said: “We have to decide daily whether or not invest resources in some of them based on prognosis and overall starting conditions.”
The doctor said he is having to “let people go”
“This means letting people go, which is part of our job, but it has never been so frequent or conditioned by the scarcity of devices/beds.”
Ventilator makers are under intense pressure to increase their production – navigating around the transport and logistical disruptions caused by the pandemic.
Amid shortages, governments are turning to help from the military, enlisting other manufacturers and even looking to 3D printing in the hopes of mass-producing the life-saving equipment.
On Saturday, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said Italy was living through its ‘gravest crisis since World War II’.
Coronavirus patients who can stay at home have been urged to do so, while others requiring intensive care are being flown to other regions or countries by military aircraft, where it is hope they will receive access to much needed ventilators.
The government has shut down all non-essential business until April 3 and the cabinet ids due to meet tonight to tighten the screws still further.
Ministers want to hike fines for people violating the shutdown to up to £3,600 from the maximum of £180 at present.
A new directive under review, seen by Reuters, would also give the government the option to extend parts of the lockdown to the end of July.
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