A day after Italy’s total COVID-19 cases topped 1 million, the Ministry of Health reported another 37,978 infections.
- A video went viral of a man lying dead on the bathroom floor of an emergency room in Naples
- Italy has the second highest COVID-19 number in Europe after the UK
- Authorities said vaccination in Italy could start in late January
Since the day before, almost 90 additional intensive care beds were occupied by COVID-19 patients, a total of 3,170.
Doctors say while Italy added thousands more ICU bed capacity during the pandemic, there aren’t enough anesthesiologists and other ICU specialists to care for more than 5,000 patients at a time.
Ambulances parked for hours in front of hospitals in the Naples area and elsewhere in Italy because the emergency rooms have no space for patients.
In Naples, disgruntled family members accused healthcare workers of failing to provide adequate care after a video emerged of a man lying dead on the bathroom floor of an emergency room.
The video went viral on Thursday, causing a public outcry and officials demanding a response from local and national health officials.
The video, allegedly recorded with a phone at the Cardarelli Hospital in Naples, also shows a seemingly overcrowded emergency area, with patients lying very close together on stretchers and left without medical assistance.
The hospital’s general manager, Giuseppe Longo, issued a video statement calling the video “unfortunate” and said they were conducting an internal investigation to determine who recorded it.
He said they would present their results to the authorities.
Veronica del Prete, whose father died in the same hospital in Naples, tearfully described her anger and fear as she watched his condition worsen at home.
She said health care workers refused to admit him to the hospital even though he had heart problems and was diabetic, putting him at higher risk of complications.
Eventually the family rented a private ambulance and took it to the hospital themselves, but even there Ms. del Prete said she had to contact the hospital to have him admitted.
Adding insult to the injury, she said that when she and her sister came to pick up his personal items, his wedding ring, watch and wallet were missing.
She said they would bring charges against the regional health system.
Hospitals across Italy overwhelmed
Hospitals across Italy have been overwhelmed for the past week as the number of infections has risen. However, the hospitals in the south of the country are known to be underfunded and overcrowded.
On Wednesday, Italy passed the one million confirmed COVID infection mark, and the daily death toll rose to 623, bringing the number of deaths from new coronaviruses in Italy to nearly 43,000, the second highest in Europe after the UK.
Italy has partially blocked a handful of regions, while much of the country continues to circulate semi-normally despite a curfew at 10:00 p.m. and bars and restaurants closing at 6:00 p.m.
Hospitals across the country are warning of the collapse as wards fill with new COVID-19 patients.
Commissioner Domenico Arcuri said that when a safe and effective vaccine was available, he expected “that we will be able to vaccinate the first Italians by the end of January”.
Italian health experts said medical workers, nursing home workers and the vulnerable will be among the first to receive vaccinations.
Italy has 1.06 million cases and a confirmed death toll of 43,589, with 636 more on Thursday.
ABC / wires
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