WHO / Europe today released a report detailing Italy’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and highlighting the lessons learned. As COVID-19 continues to influence countries throughout the WHO European Region, the report seeks to provide guidance through evidence.
This report presents profiles from each region of Italy, provides epidemiological reviews, and summarizes data on factors including hospital capacity and communication. Data for this report was collected during the first phase of the pandemic – with the latest data set collected on April 30, 2020, shortly before Italy moved to the second “transition” phase, which included some easing steps.
Dr Hans Henri P. Kluge, WHO Regional Director for Europe, said: “Italy’s first response to COVID-19 came at a time of unprecedented challenges, but the country quickly stepped up. The response called for solidarity and rapid exchange of experiences – something that is at the heart of the European Work Program ‘United Action for Better Health’ “.
Evidence based response
This report provides a timetable for arrival of COVID-19 in Italy, steps taken to control the pandemic, and the latest information and data. Because many countries throughout the Region are trying to ease the restrictions imposed in response to a sudden increase in COVID-19 cases, this report can inform future responses to disease outbreaks by identifying best practices, potential pitfalls and areas for improvement.
On February 21, Italy reported the first COVID-19 case that was transmitted locally. This triggers an immediate response from WHO, with the deployment of a rapid response team to support national and regional authorities to identify patterns of virus spread and the most effective steps to respond. This includes finding, testing, isolating and treating cases; track their contacts; and communicating risk by involving the community.
Among the team’s recommendations and as part of WHO’s ground support to Italy, a senior advisor was mobilized to join efforts at the Ministry of Health, and WHO’s European Office for Investment for Health and Development, based in Venice, is used to maintain aid closer to where the person most exposed to or affected by the disease. Within a few weeks, the Venice Office, which produced the report, became a center of knowledge for medical specialists who shared their experiences from every corner of the country to increase knowledge and responses.
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