Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

  • Outside of China, Italy has thus far been hit hardest by the coronavirus outbreak that originated in Wuhan, China, late last year.
  • The coronavirus outbreak has reached more than 119 000 people, and the death toll has surpassed 4,200 worldwide. In Italy alone, there are over 10,000 confirmed cases with at least 631 deaths.
  • Doctors are pushed to their limits as they face an overwhelming number of patients.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

As the coronavirus continues to spread, Italy emerged thus far as the hardest hit country outside of China.

The coronavirus outbreak has reached more than 119 000 people, and the death toll has surpassed 4 200 worldwide. In Italy alone, there are over 10 000 confirmed cases with at least 631 deaths.

This week, the entire country went under an unprecedented lockdown to contain the spread of the disease.

With one of the world's oldest populations next to Japan, Italian nationals may be more more at risk, as the coronavirus has showed to be more fatal in cases involving elderly individuals with underlying health conditions.

Doctors are pushed to their limits as they face an overwhelming number of patients.


Some doctors work long shifts that span days at a time.

Some doctors in Italy are forced to work "four to five days continuously" as they battle the coronavirus at the frontlines.

Source: CNN


Doctors are assuming several roles at once to deal with a multitude of patients.

Dr. Daniele Macchini, who works at the Humanitas Gavazzeni hospital in the northern city of Bergamo, described in a Facebook post what he saw at the frontlines of the disease.

"I saw the tiredness on faces that didn't know what it was despite the already exhausting workloads they had," he wrote. "I saw a solidarity of all of us who never failed to go to our internist colleagues to ask, 'What can I do for you now?'"

"Doctors who move beds and transfer patients, who administer therapies instead of nurses."

Source: New York Post


Overwhelmed doctors are faced with the difficult decision of who to treat first.

A shortage of beds and medical supplies force hospital workers to make tough calls on which patients to treat first, as entire wards are shutting down to accommodate the growing number of coronavirus patients seeking treatment.

Doctors are beginning to prioritise younger coronavirus patients over older individuals with pre-existing conditions as they have the "greatest chance of survival," Politico reported. The coronavirus has shown to be more fatal in the latter group of patients.

"It is a fact that we will have to choose [whom to treat], and this choice will be entrusted to individual operators on the ground who may find themselves having ethical problems," a doctor working in Milan told Politico.

Source: Politico


Shortage of doctors lead to some patients with less severe symptoms being turned away for treatment.

Some hospitals are so overwhelmed with patients that they are beginning to turn away elderly patients and non-coronavirus cases, the Daily Mail reported.

Those who haven't tested positive for the coronavirus are being given a "leaflet" and "told to perform specialist tasks for which they are not qualified, while some patients over 65 are not even being assessed," one doctor told the Mail.

Source: The Daily Mail


Italy is trying to supplement lack of doctors by pulling some out of retirement and advancing the graduation of nursing students still attending school.

"We'll take anyone: old, young. We need personnel, especially qualified doctors," the region's top health official, Giulio Gallera told the Associated Press.

Source: Associated Press


Doctors are unable to live their lives outside of the hospital and refrain from seeing their families out of fear of infecting them.

"There are no more shifts, no more hours. Social life is suspended for us," Dr. Macchini wrote. "We no longer see our families for fear of infecting them. Some of us have already become infected despite the protocols."

Source: New York Post

Receive a daily update on your cellphone with all our latest news: click here.

Also from Business Insider South Africa: