Italian Ambassador to Israel Gianluigi Benedetti
Italian Ambassador to Israel Gianluigi Benedetti
Photo: Courtesy
Disinfecting the street of Milan

What Israel can learn from Italy's coronavirus fight

Opinion: Despite media reports, our system is far from collapse with 32% more ICU beds added, research accelerated to develop antibodies, medicine and vaccines to fight virus; in fact, Italian model now largely replicated by other countries

Gianluigi Benedetti |
Published: 04.03.20 , 23:36
Italy was one of the first countries that faced the huge challenge of the fast spreading of the coronavirus, particularly in Lombardy.
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  • To face such an unprecedented situation, the Italian government has been taking since the outbreak a series of emergency measures coordinated by the Italian Civil Protection Department and based upon the assessment of a Technical-Scientific Committee created to deal with the pandemic.
    חיטוי איטליה נגיף קורונה מילאנוחיטוי איטליה נגיף קורונה מילאנו
    Disinfecting the street of Milan
    (Photo: AP)
    These measures, aimed at slowing down and eventually stopping the spreading of the virus, represent a model that is now largely replicated by other countries.
    Starting from the areas affected in the North and soon for the entire country, a complete lockdown was implemented.
    Citizens were asked to stay home and permitted to move only for very limited purposes (work, health needs or any other urgent necessity).
    All public, industrial and commercial activities have been stopped, except for those providing necessary goods and services and those of strategic value.
    In addition, the government approved financial measures to support local governments, to activate social protection instruments for workers, and to help families and businesses severely hit by the economic crisis.
    A large operation for repatriating Italians tourists abroad was also carried out.
    נגיף קורונה איטליה אחים אחיות צפון המדינהנגיף קורונה איטליה אחים אחיות צפון המדינה
    Preparing a coronavirus ward in northern Italy
    (Photo: AFP)
    Our health system - one of the most advanced in the world - was certainly exposed to heavy strain because infection spread fast and hit a large part of the Italian elderly population, traditionally very socially active.
    However, contrary to what often appears in the media, the system is far from a collapse. Thanks to exceptional efforts, the Intensive Care Units (ICUs) capacity has been increased by 32% to almost 7,000 beds (1,000 more will be added soon), ensuring that, at national level, almost one third of our ICU beds remain available.
    A specific system was established by the Civil Protection Department to ensure that, if needed, patients can be rapidly transferred from one region to another.
    Moreover, almost 80 hospitals were totally dedicated to COVID-19 patients; the availability of protection gears and medical supplies was ensured in record time, considering the global situation, also by supporting Italian enterprises to expand or convert their activities to produce necessary medical devices.
    נגיף קורונה איטליה מייצרים מסכות במפעל של למבורגינינגיף קורונה איטליה מייצרים מסכות במפעל של למבורגיני
    Workers in Lombardy make masks to protect against coronavirus
    (Photo: AFP)
    Calls for medical doctors and nursing staff were open nationwide, receiving a number of applications more than 200 times greater than the request, and research to develop antibodies, medicine and vaccines to fight the virus was accelerated.
    Thanks to the courage, unity and resilience of all citizens and our medical doctors and staff, these measures have been starting to produce positive effects, as the number of new cases and new deaths are gradually decreasing over the last few days.
    A woman sits on her balcony in Rome during the Italian lockdown A woman sits on her balcony in Rome during the Italian lockdown
    A woman sits on her balcony in Rome during the Italian lockdown
    (Photo: Getty Images)
    However, as the global situation develops, we are all fully aware that no country can make it alone. There is no alternative to international solidarity and cooperation to face this pandemic.
    We are pleased to see that the WHO and many countries look now at Italy as a model and stand ready to share our experience and knowledge and to increase cooperation with countries that need it. In this spirit, my Embassy is here to facilitate any cooperation with our Israeli friends.
    Gianluigi Benedetti is the Italian ambassador to Israel

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