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Prioritise those more likely to survive, Italian doctors told

Published: (Updated: ) in Australian News by .

Italian doctors and nurses have been instructed to leave those unlikely to survive the coronavirus outbreak untreated, as hospitals there come under incredible strain.

Italian doctors and nurses have been instructed to leave those unlikely to survive the coronavirus outbreak untreated, as hospitals there come under incredible strain.

With more than 10,000 cases of COVID-19 in the country, hospitals are understaffed and underequipped for the surge in patients.

As a result, hospital staff are required to decide what patients get life-saving devices like ventilators.

A doctor in Milan said her hospital has a lot of young coronavirus patients who need serious care.

Naples, Italy

"A lot of patients need help with breathing but there are not enough ventilators," she said, according to ITV.

"They've told us that starting from now we'll have to choose who to intubate - priority will go to the young or those without comorbidities."

Guidelines published by the Italian College of Anaesthesia, Analgesia, Resuscitation and Intensive Care ask doctors and nurses to triage their patients to determine who they should save.

Those too old to be likely to survive the coronavirus will be left to die, as are those with significant comorbidities.

A pharmacist wears a mask as she speaks to a man keeping his distance, outside a pharmacy in Milan, Italy, Wednesday, March 11, 2020. Picture: Claudio Furlan

Because younger and healthier people may not need as much treatment, they will be prioritised to free up hospital beds.

"What might be a relatively short treatment course in healthier people could be longer and more resource-consuming in the case of older or more fragile patients," the guidelines state.

The measure takes its cues from wartime medical treatment, when so many injuries necessitated brutal choices.

At one hospital in Milan, patients older than 60 are not being intubated.

Paramedics stand by a tent that was set up outside the emergency ward of Cremona's hospital in northern Italy.

Those in intensive care for non-coronavirus ailments are also subject to the triage.

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The two per cent fatality rate for coronavirus comes from hospitals which have been well-equipped and able to handle the number of patients.

The fatality rate for coronavirus in Italy is now close to seven per cent.

Experts have projected that up to 70 per cent of Australians could get coronavirus if the pandemic spreads uncontained.

Statistics from 2018 showed there were 62,000 hospital beds in Australia.

Read more: Coronavirus: Your questions answered

Read more: Will Australia be cut off completely?

How coronavirus cases have spread around the world since January.

Source: 9News https://www.9news.com.au/world/coronavirus-prioritise-those-more-likely-to-survive-italian-doctors-told/bb7e7a3d-9b3d-40f2-8cfa-5f26ef02feb1

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