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Bergamo hospitals full as Italy's coronavirus nightmare worsens

A view of Bergamo, Italy, Tuesday, March 17, 2020.
A view of Bergamo, Italy, Tuesday, March 17, 2020.   -   Copyright  Luca Bruno/Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved
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A doctor in the city at the centre of Italy’s coronavirus epidemic says that staff are now having to turn away patients because the hospital is too full.

Lorenzo D'Antiga, director of the Paediatric Unit and Transplant Centre at the Papa Giovanni XXIII hospital in Bergamo, says the hospital has run out of beds in ICU and he describes the situation as "dramatic".

Bergamo is now the epicentre of the outbreak after Codogno in the Lombardy region.

“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 told Euronews.

“All places are occupied by patients with other conditions - 20 places are occupied by people with other conditions and 80 are occupied by Covid patients. We don’t have any beds left.

Italy has now passed China as the worst-hit country in the world by coronavirus, according to the latest figures released by the government.

Rome reported 427 new COVID-19 fatalities in a day, taking its death toll to 3,405, more than 150 ahead of China. Italy's total stood at 1,016 just a week ago, but with 300-400 new deaths a day it has now tripled over that period.

D'Antiga said that the hospital would now have to treat patients elsewhere in the hospital, or transfer them to other facilities, although other hospitals in the region are also full.

“We have an inflow which is quite remarkable but we don't have an outflow. We also have to replace the internal medicine wards, the gastroenterology and even neurology wards and we have to make space for coronavirus patients,” he said.

“So half of the hospital is actually working on these patients.”

D'Antiga added that older patients with severe diseases were not being treated because of a lack of facilities.

“We have 400 patients on the ward, our intensive care is full so if the numbers keep increasing then we will have to decide not to resuscitate patients that six months ago would have been resuscitated,” he said.

“The situation is really dramatic, the mood is really depressing, 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.”