A distressing video of a hospital in Bergamo — the city in Italy hardest hit by COVID-19 — shows overwhelmed health care workers struggling to control the massive outbreak of the coronavirus in their community.
The video, uploaded by Sky News on Thursday, shows doctors and nurses scrambling to treat direly ill patients in the packed hospital. Patients can be seen gasping for air in an emergency arrivals room, which was converted into an intensive care unit after the regular ICU reached capacity.
Dr. Roberto Cosentini, the head of emergency care at Papa Giovanni XXIII hospital, told Sky News that the COVID-19 disease is much worse than the common flu because it rapidly develops into a "very severe pneumonia" in many patients.
"It's a massive strain for every health system," he continued. "We see every day 50 to 60 patients who come to our emergency department with pneumonia, and most of them are so severe they need very high volumes of oxygen.
"And so we had to reorganize our emergency room and our hospital — three levels of intensive care," Cosentini added.
The shocking centre of the COVID-19 crisis youtu.be
Italy's coronavirus death toll surpassed China's this week as Europe becomes the new epicenter of the global pandemic. As of Thursday afternoon, 3,405 Italians had died since contracting the virus.
The country's health care system is near the brink of collapse. The Italian military has been deployed to transport the bodies of the deceased to be cremated.
Lorenzo D'Antiga, director of the Paediatric Unit and Transplant Centre at the same hospital in Bergamo, described the situation as "dramatic" in a recent interview with Euronews.
"We've saturated our bed availability, we are really in trouble, we have to send patients away to other hospitals, all the intensive care units in the regions are full so actually this is really a big big problem," he said.
D'Antiga said one of the most pressing problems is that the hospital is experiencing an inflow of patients every day, but not an outflow. To manage the intake, the hospital is having to turn all of its units into intensive care units to treat the ill.
"The situation is really dramatic, the mood is really depressing," he added. "Relatives can't stay with patients during their admission and some others die without anyone around. It's also forbidden to have funerals, so even the last prayer can't be done properly."
Bergamo doctor: 'We are having to turn patients away' youtu.be
(H/T: Business Insider)