“Italy repeats China’s mistakes”: experts argue for a different approach

Italy should not put corona patients with mild symptoms at home but quarantine them. That is what Chinese experts who advise the authorities in the hard-hit country say. Italian professor Andrea Crisanti also advocates this approach.

Doctors in the Chinese metropolis of Wuhan made the same mistake at the beginning of the outbreak, says Liang Zong’An of the West China Hospital of Sichuan University. They then tried to ease the pressure on hospitals by asking less sick patients to go into isolation at home.


The Chinese authorities at the time would have underestimated how contagious the virus could be. The authorities in Wuhan later decided to quarantine all mild cases. This happened in improvised hospitals, for example, in office buildings. Liang says his team advises the Italians to follow suit and not let patients stay with their families. Italian media have reported infected people who were caught in the street when they should have stayed at home.

The city of Milan has already decided to place patients with mild symptoms in hotels. Then they can be kept away from family members in isolation. The first hotel with more than three hundred rooms is to be used this week.

Most deaths in the world

The Italian authorities have reported the highest official death toll in the world. More than 10,000 patients with the coronavirus have already died. According to Liang Zong’An, this is mainly because the country has a relatively old population.

Italy has been entirely in lockdown for about three weeks, and yet the number of new infections does not seem to be decreasing. In the past three days, between 5,000 and 6,000, new infections were added. Friday saw the highest mortality rate since the epidemic outbreak, at 919. The number of deaths declined only slightly in the following days.

According to Italian microbiology professor Andrea Crisanti, the measures taken in his country do not seem to work. He also advocates separating and isolating patients with mild Covid-19 symptoms from their families. Crisanti believes that many of the new Covid-19 patients have become infected at home. “We believe the infections are happening at home,” he said in an interview with Radio Capital.

“Test everyone”

“We need to be much more aggressive in identifying people who are sick at home. We need to visit people at home and test them, like their family, neighbors, and friends. Those who test positive must be accommodated in accommodation centers outside their homes,” says Crisanti.

According to Angelo Borrelli, head of Italian civil protection, the persistently high number of infections and deaths does not mean that government measures are not valid. “Without these measures, numbers would be much higher, and our health services would be in much worse shape,” Borrelli defended the Italian approach in Italian media last weekend.

Reuters, Bloomberg
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