Italy now has more respirators than ICU patients

Nurse Cristina Settembrese fixes two masks to her face during her work shift in the COVID-19 ward at the San Paolo hospital in Milan, Italy, April 10, 2020. Settembrese spends her days caring for COVID-19 patients in a hospital ward, and when she goes home, her personal isolation begins by her own choice.

Italy’s extraordinary commissioner for the COVID-19 emergency says that for the first time during the pandemic the nation has more respirators than patients with coronavirus infections in intensive care beds.

“This gives us the strength to go forward,” Domenico Arcuri told reporters on Tuesday. There are currently some 2,500 patients receiving intensive care for coronavirus infections.

Arcuri spoke of the “anguish, with which, each night, we had to decide where to send these instruments, which, in the end, save lives” when there weren’t enough respirators for those all needing them.

“I’ll keep that with me for all my life, and I wouldn’t wish anyone else to experience” the dilemma of choosing which hospital received them, he said.

For several days running now in Italy, the number of patients in intensive care wards have been diminishing. Italy has Europe’s highest number of deaths — more than 24,000 — in the outbreak, which in the early weeks overwhelmed hospitals, especially in the north where most known cases were registered.

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