Yesterday cases of the deadly coronavirus in Italy jumped from 196 to 827 which has had caused a shortage of hospital beds in intensive care units. As a result doctors have warned medics should shift their attention to those with better chances of surviving the coronavirus.
Top doctors have said intensive care wards should place an age limit on beds as a way of prioritising medical resources.
This comes after the number of cases in Italy rose to a worrying 12,149 last night, with 827 fatalities.
More European countries are reporting their first deaths of people with the new contagion.
Guidance published by a top Italian health agency has now suggested that rather than admit patients on a “first come first served” basis, hospitals should swap to “catastrophe medicine” guidelines.
This means those with the greatest chance of survival are given priority.
These guidelines are typically used in war zones and during natural disasters.
If a limit on beds is implemented it could mean elderly patients with no signs of coronavirus being turfed off ICU wards to make space for younger patients who have longer left to live.
The guidelines should apply to all patients needing intensive care treatment and not just those suffering from coronavrius, according to guidance published this week by the Society of Anesthesia, Analgesia, Resuscitation and Intensive Care (SAARI).
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This comes amid news that Italy has said all shops except pharmacies and food outlets will be closed in response to the country’s coronavirus outbreak.
Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced the latest wave of restrictions in a dramatic appeal to the nation.
It was labelled the country’s biggest crisis in generations.
Conte said in his nine-minute evening prime time address to the nation: “Thank you to all Italians who make sacrifices. We are proving to be a great nation.”
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Italian restrictions on everyday life are tightening after a government decree on Monday stopped non-essential travel between cities and banned public gatherings.
The existing clampdown on public gathering and basic travel had already emptied streets and shuttered everything from churches to restaurants.
Meanwhile, in Sweden the death of an elderly woman who had been in intensive care represented the first virus-related death for the whole Nordic-Baltic region.
Denmark’s Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen announced today that the country will close all kindergartens, schools and universities for two weeks.
Swiss customs authorities have shut down nine border crossings with Italy, the epicentre of Europe’s coronavirus outbreak, to channel border traffic through seven other sites.
The move announced today follows a decision by Italian authorities to continue to allow cross-border traffic with Switzerland despite adopting strong quarantine measures across Italy.
In the UK, Prime Minister Boris Johnson will escalate the country’s response to coronavirus, with public gatherings and offices to face closure.
This comes as at least 456 coronavirus cases have now been confirmed in the UK, with a death toll of eight.
Mr Johnson will chair an emergency COBRA meeting where the UK’s contingency plans for tackling the virus will be addressed.
Mr Johnson is expected to move to the second phase of his action plan, delay, which will see attempts to slow the virus from hitting its peak until the summer.
Under new plans from the government, public gatherings could be halted to stop person to person transmission.
Furthermore, offices could also face closure with millions of people to be advised to work from home.
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