The healthcare system in Italy's Lombardy region is so strained from the new coronavirus that officials are asking doctors to come out of retirement and nursing students are being fast-tracked to graduation

An Italian army soldier blocks off a road leading to the village of Vo'Euganeo, in Italy's northern Veneto region, on Friday, Feb. 28, 2020. Vo'Euganeo is the epicenter of the Veneto cluster of the new virus. (Claudio Fulan/LaPresse via AP)
An Italian soldier blocking off a road leading to the village of Vo'Euganeo, in Italy's northern Veneto region, on Friday.

Associated Press

  • Officials in the Lombardy region of Italy are looking to pull in retired doctors and nursing students who are close to graduating to combat the massive number of COVID-19 patients in the region, the Associated Press reported Monday.

  • Over half of the more than 2,000 confirmed new coronavirus infections in Italy are in the Lombardy region.

  • A little under 10% of Lombardy's COVID-19 cases need ICU treatment.

  • Ten percent of doctors and nurses in the Lombardy region have already caught the novel coronavirus and are in quarantine.

  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

In the Lombardy region of Italy, the epicenter for the novel coronavirus outbreak in the country, officials are looking to pull doctors out of retirement and are fast-tracking nursing students who are close to graduating to help treat patients, the Associated Press reported Monday.

According to the AP, 10% of healthcare workers in the region have caught the virus and cannot attend to patients. More than half of Italy's 2,036 COVID-19 virus cases are in Lombardy. The country has seen 54 deaths, most of them in the region.

According to Reuters, regional authorities also want to keep schools closed and ban public gatherings for another week to keep the virus from spreading.

In some of the worst affected areas, about 4% of the population had contracted the virus, Reuters reported.

According to the AP, hospitals in the cities Lodi and Cremona had so many patients coming in last week that they had to close their emergency rooms and send some patients to other facilities. A little under 10% of people with the COVID-19 virus in the region have needed to be admitted to the ICU, the head of the national Civil Protection agency, Angelo Borrelli, told the AP.

"Effectively some of the hospitals in Lombardy are under a stress that is much heavier than what this area can support," Dr. Massimo Galli, the head of infectious disease at Milan's Sacco Hospital, told Sky TG24.

Officials are asking for retired doctors to be put back on the payroll and come in to treat patients. Additionally, nursing students who would have taken their final exams next month, will graduate in the next few day so they can also attend to new COVID-19 patients.

"We'll take anyone: old, young. We need personnel, especially qualified doctors," the region's top health official, Giulio Gallera told the AP.

In China, where the outbreak originated, the shortage of medical staff and the vast of majority of resources being redirected toward COVID-19 have left people with other ailments vulnerable. Some couldn't travel for necessary procedures, and others lacked access to the medicine they needed.

Italy has the worst outbreak outside Asia. Many tourist attractions even in areas not affected by the virus have been shut down to the public as part of containment efforts.

Read the original article on Business Insider