Italy: Covid hits new high, hospitals under strain

Hospital admissions across Italy are surgings once again as daily coronavirus infections are hitting new highs due to the Omicron variant. Medical director of Rome’s Casalpalocco Covid hospital told AFP that the situation has been serious for about a month.

Out of 120 beds in the facility, 111 are filled by virus-stricken patients.

“We are inundated with requests for admission. It’s a constant pressure,” said Marchese, adding that he feared numbers would rise even higher. 

Almost three-quarters of the hospital’s Covid patients are unvaccinated, and some resist intubation when taken to the intensive care unit. 

“Then they generally accept because they realise how serious it is and then they can no longer breathe on their own,” he said.

The majority of patients in intensive care are elderly, but younger people also fill up beds “because they have to be constantly and precisely monitored to see if they need to be ventilated”, Marchese said.

Throughout Italy, hospitals are seeing a similar phenomenon. 

Whereas 10 percent of intensive care beds were occupied by Covid patients on December 17, that number has crept up to 13 percent in the past two days, according to Italy’s National Agency for Regional Health Services. 

Some regions are under even more pressure, such as Veneto, at 18 percent, and Lazio — of which Rome is the capital — at 16 percent. 

Although 85.8 percent of the country’s population over the age of 12 has been fully inoculated, there remain roughly six million unvaccinated over-12s, according to official data. 

“In my opinion, in Italy we’ve managed to steer the population towards a certain favourable vaccination trend,” said Marchese. 

“Of course, the no-vax people exist everywhere, even here.”

(With inputs from agencies)

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