When Milan resident Antonia Mortensen was pulled over by police while driving recently, it wasnt for a traffic offense. It was to instruct her fellow passenger to sit in the back of the car and to check that both were wearing face masks.
“We were told we cannot both sit in the front,” said the CNN journalist, who was on her way to hospital with her husband to visit a sick relative.
“We have a special certificate giving us permission to go to the hospital,” she said, adding that the relative does not have CCP virus.
The Epoch Times refers to the novel coronavirus, which causes the disease COVID-19, as the CCP virus because the Chinese Communist Partys coverup and mismanagement allowed the virus to spread throughout China and create a global pandemic.
Such are the tight restrictions on Italians now living in the deadliest hotspot of the global coronavirus pandemic.
Italys death toll is now at 10,023. This is higher than Chinas official death toll of 3,299 which has been critized for a lack of transparency. Fatalities passed the grim milestone on Saturday, with an increase of 889 since the last figures were released on Friday, according to Italys Civil Protection Agency. The European country has reported another 92,472 confirmed cases.
The United States has also reported a high number of infections, which stands at 105,470.
As Italy enters its sixth week of restrictions, many are asking: why does its death rate seem so much higher than other countries?
Experts say its down to a combination of factors, like the countrys large elderly population which is more susceptible to the virus, and the method of testing thats not giving the full picture about infections.
Italys number of confirmed cases is “not representative of the entire infected population,” said Dr. Massimo Galli, head of the infectious disease unit at Sacco Hospital in Milan. The real figure was “much much more.”
Only the most severe cases are being tested, added Galli, and not the entire population—which in turn, skews the death rate.
In the northern Lombardy region, which has the majority of cases, about 5,000 swabs are being carried out daily, said Galli. He added this was “much lower than needed, with “thousands of people waiting for diagnosis at their home.”
A major obstacle for health workers carrying out tests, was limited protective gear available, he said.
In a stark warning to other countries, Galli said: “We have a national healthcare system that works very well, especially in Lombardy—but even our system has been hit by this.
“Miracles have been done in multiplying the numbers of beds in hospitals,” said the health expert. But medicine “has been lacking—and this is a big problem that will be felt by other countries.”
Elderly at Risk
Another factor in the seemingly high death rate is Italys elderly population, which is the largest in the world behind Japan.
The average age of Italian patients who have died after testing positive for the virus was 78, the countrys Health Institute said Friday.
Galli said that until now, Italys public healthcare system was able to keep a lot of elderly people with pre-existing medical conditions alive.
But these patients were in “a really fragile situation that can be broken by a virus like coronavirus,” he added.
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