‘Travel as little as possible’: Italy urges caution as hospitals struggle

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‘Travel as little as possible’: Italy urges caution as hospitals struggle
The Intensive Care Unit for Covid-19 cases at the San Filippo Neri hospital in Rome on October 29th. Photo: Tiziana Fabi/AFP

Italy's coronavirus emergency commissioner Domenico Arcuri appealed to the public to be cautious on Thursday as he warned that hospitals are filling up.


"Let's travel as little as possible," Arcuri said at a press conference late on Thursday night as he outlined the current situation in Italy.

“Coronavirus infections are now eight times higher than 21 days ago, the Rt number doubles every week,” he said.
The country on Thursday reported almost 26,000 new cases, far exceeding those recorded during the peak in March, and 217 deaths.
“On March 21st there were 6,557 new infections. 793 Italians died that day,” Arcuri said, pointing out that Italy is now carrying out 12 times as many tests compared to that period.
Compared to the situation back in March “we are in another world,” he continued.
"We are experiencing a new drama, but to face it we have to understand how different it is.”
He insisted that Italy does not currently have “real problems” with capacity in intensive care units, but said “we have a serious problem with hospital crowding."


As well as appealing for less travel within the country, he said health authorities “plan to increase testing capacity to at least 200,000 per day.”
“From Monday we will also carry out at least another 100,000 antigenic rapid molecular tests, so it will be possible to screen 300,000 people in Italy daily,” he said.
The government’s plan for increased testing however relies on new rules requiring GPs and pediatricians to begin administering rapid tests - though doctors’ unions have not yet agreed to the plan, which they say is too risky.
“We must ask them to treat as much as possible at home, equipping them with the appropriate safety devices. We must ease the pressure on hospitals at all costs,” Arcuri said. 
Beyond detailing the testing plan and the contents of a new package of financial aid approved this week, he did not give details of any further steps the government intends to take.
While there is widespread speculation that Italy could be forced to implement a second strict lockdown as cases rise, the government has repeatedly said it is trying to avoid doing so.
Arcuri however warned the public of the need for current measures to be taken seriously.
"I hope to never hear again calls for people not to wear masks, or statements about the death of the virus, or the need to put an end to the state of emergency", he said.
Find all The Local's latest coronavirus updates here.


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