A patient arrives by ambulance at Milan's San Carlo hospital on October 28th. Photo: Miguel Medina/AFP
Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte's government last week imposed a countrywide night curfew as well as tougher measures in six regions declared red or orange zones.
But demands for tougher action continue amid reports that hospitals across the country are struggling.
“I am afraid there is no doubt that the situation is largely out of control,” Massimo Galli, the head of the infectious diseases department at Milan's renowned Sacco hospital, told RAI television.
“Other illnesses don't go on strike because Covid exists and we have to get organised… otherwise the pandemic will end up doing damage that goes beyond the already very sad number of deaths,” he added.
Galli backed a call by the national federation of medical associations for a “total lockdown throughout the country”.
In a Facebook post, Filippo Anelli, president of the Italian federation of medical guilds (FNOMCEO), called for Italy to be put into a “total lockdown”.
Anelli said the national health system cannot cope.
Based on the latest national health data, he said, the situation in a month will be “dramatic and therefore we must resort immediately to a total closure.”
“We have reached fairly critical levels, lines of ambulances at emergency rooms are seen everywhere, intensive care is starting to have significant numbers.”
“Either we stop the virus or it will stop us, because the signs show that the system is not holding up. Even the current yellow regions will soon find themselves in the same conditions as the worst-hit areas,” Anelli told Italian news agency Ansa.
Under the new three-tier system of restrictions, four regions were designated 'red zones': Calabria, Lombardy, Piedmont and Val d'Aosta. They have been under strict measures since Friday.
The southern regions of Puglia and Sicily were classed as medium-high risk 'orange zones' while the rest of the country is yellow, or moderate risk
Under the rules, which apply until at least December 3rd, most shops, as well as bars and restaurants, are closed and residents' movements restricted.
Italy on Friday also brought in a national curfew between the hours of 10pm and 5am.
More than 41,000 people have died so far in Italy, with more than 935,000 cases since the start of the pandemic.
At the end of last week, around 450 virus deaths were being recorded each day, with more than 30,000 new daily cases.