- Italy’s fight against coronavirus has received desperately needed doctors, supplies and equipment from China.
- Soaring numbers of new coronavirus patients are putting the country’s health services under strain.
- Health officials have described the outbreak as a “race against time”.
With Italy’s health system under severe pressure from the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak, help is being flown in from China.
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Specialist doctors and medical equipment have landed in Italy ready to help tackle the sharp spike in people with the disease, which has overwhelmed medical facilities.
The doctors bring with them first-hand experience of dealing with the coronavirus, having previously helped to tackle the original outbreak in China's Hubei province that killed more than 3,000 people. Tough quarantine measures have seen the rate of new cases in China dwindle, while in Europe the outbreak continues to spread.
"Our doctors don't need anyone to teach them their job, but the Chinese doctors were the first [to treat the virus]and they can bring their experience," Italian Minister Luigi DI Maio told RAI television.
More than 12,000 people have tested positive for the virus in Italy, and the number of new cases is increasing daily.
In Lombardy, one of Italy’s worst-affected areas, 80% of the region’s acute-care beds are reserved for treating coronavirus patients.
“As of now the region’s health-care system is holding up well, but if the increase in the number of infected people in need of intensive care doesn’t slow down we could have issues,” the region’s top health official Giulio Gallera told Bloomberg, describing the situation as “a race against time”.
What is the World Economic Forum doing about the coronavirus outbreak?
Responding to the COVID-19 pandemic requires global cooperation among governments, international organizations and the business community, which is at the centre of the World Economic Forum’s mission as the International Organization for Public-Private Cooperation.
Since its launch on 11 March, the Forum’s COVID Action Platform has brought together 1,667 stakeholders from 1,106 businesses and organizations to mitigate the risk and impact of the unprecedented global health emergency that is COVID-19.
The platform is created with the support of the World Health Organization and is open to all businesses and industry groups, as well as other stakeholders, aiming to integrate and inform joint action.
As an organization, the Forum has a track record of supporting efforts to contain epidemics. In 2017, at our Annual Meeting, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) was launched – bringing together experts from government, business, health, academia and civil society to accelerate the development of vaccines. CEPI is currently supporting the race to develop a vaccine against this strand of the coronavirus.
The sudden influx of new patients has depleted medical supplies and caused shortages of vital medical equipment, such as ventilators for people with severe respiratory difficulties.
China has agreed to supply desperately needed medical equipment, including contracts for 10,000 pulmonary ventilators, 2 million face masks and 20,000 protective suits.