In a hospital in the suburbs of Rome overwhelmed by Covid, “the pressure is constant” – Sciences et Avenir

“We are overwhelmed with requests for hospitalization (…) the pressure is constant,” sighs Antonino Marchese, who runs a Covid hospital on the outskirts of Rome, where the intensive care unit has more than 70% unvaccinated people, while the government strongly recommends vaccination.

“The situation is dire,” Dr. Marchese, health director of the Casalpalocco hospital, which currently houses 111 patients with a capacity of 120 beds, including 35 in intensive care, told AFP. Originally specialized in cardiology, this establishment is now fully dedicated to Covid patients.

“This situation has been going on for about a month now. We are systematically full,” he laments, adjusting his glasses to his face framed by curly salt and pepper hair. Nationwide, the occupancy rate for Covid patients in intensive care increased from 10% to 13% between December 17 and December 29.

Like its European neighbors, Italy is currently facing a significant spike in pollution. Almost 100,000 new cases (98,020) were registered on Wednesday and more than 600,000 people test positive today.

A member of the nursing staff treats a Covid patient in the intensive care unit of the Heart Institute of Rome on December 30, 2021 (AFP – Alberto PIZZOLI)

Faced with this increase linked to the Omicron variant, the government of Mario Draghi decided on Wednesday afternoon to demand the vaccination pass in transport, hotels, restaurant terraces, fairs and congresses as well as swimming pools and gyms.

These measures will come into force at the end of the school holidays on January 10, according to the decree-law “that introduces urgent measures to contain the spread of the Covid-19 epidemic” adopted during the Council of Ministers.

Until now, to take the train and the plane, it was enough to be in possession of a “basic” health pass, which could be obtained by vaccination but also with a negative test.

The vaccination pass, known in Italy as a “reinforced health pass”, is obtained only with a complete vaccination cycle or after recovery from Covid. Currently, the vaccination pass is only required for certain professional categories, such as health personnel and law enforcement agencies.

– “Indescribable” –

85.8% of the population over 12 years of age is vaccinated, but with these measures the government hopes to convince some of the 6 million over 12 who are reluctant to the vaccine, who represent the vast majority of Covid patients that end in resuscitation. and risk of overheating of the national health system.

At Casalpalocco, “the percentage exceeds 70%, in 72-73% of unvaccinated patients”, confirms Dr. Marchese, consulting the latest figures on his computer. In intensive care, intubated or tracheostomy patients, some of whom do not know, are supervised by a ballet of nurses in full suits.

On another floor, two patients discharged from intensive care prepare to finally return home.

Roberto, a Covid patient from the Heart Institute of Rome who will soon be able to return home, on December 30, 2021 (AFP - Alberto PIZZOLI)Roberto, a Covid patient from the Heart Institute of Rome who will soon be able to return home, on December 30, 2021 (AFP – Alberto PIZZOLI)

“I have been here since December 6 (…) I was very ill when I arrived,” says Roberto Cassina, 53 years old. “He was not vaccinated,” he admits. And when we ask him if they are going to vaccinate him, he remains evasive: “I don’t know, I have to think about it (…) I still have doubts.”

On the other hand, in the room opposite, Gianpaolo Coin, also at the exit, answered unequivocally in the affirmative, confessing that he was “very afraid.” “With my wife we ​​thought we were going to die,” admits this 75-year-old man on the verge of tears, “it is indescribable.”

The government also decided on Wednesday to lift the ten-day quarantine for vaccinated or cured Covid contact cases. Those not vaccinated must continue to respect a ten-day quarantine.

This relaxation of the quarantine rules aims to avoid the paralysis of certain sectors such as transport, where the large number of employees in quarantine has caused, for example, the cancellation of many trains.

Finally, sports structures will be subject to gauges: 35% for indoor venues and 50% for outdoor ones.

“I find these government directives absolutely fundamental, and even in my humble opinion we should come to a unified decision at least at the European level on the vaccination obligation”, “because this is how we can win this battle,” says Dr. Marchese.

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