MILAN – Italy’s business capital has become the epicenter of a second wave of the coronavirus, jeopardizing the country’s economic recovery and reviving the specter of a health care crisis that Italians say they have overcome this spring.
With Covid-19-related infections, hospitalizations and deaths increasing exponentially, hospitals in Milan ran out of beds even after wards were changed and suspended nonurgent procedures. Ambulances are forced to wait for hours to drop off patients at hospitals where Covid-19 patients are sometimes placed on gurneys in busy corridors.
On Friday, the government closed Milan and the surrounding Lombardy region, along with three of Italy’s 20 other regions. In this so-called red zone, freedom of movement is severely restricted, most shops are closed, cafes and restaurants can only sell take-away food, and children from the second year of high school have returned to distance learning. The government said it would assess the situation in two weeks.
“I don’t know if the new lockdown will be enough, nobody knows that,” said Massimo Galli, head of infectious diseases at Milan’s Sacco hospital, where in the second half of October doctors treated as many seriously ill Covid-19 patients as possible. as in all of March and April.
Milan has become a symbol of how quickly the pandemic can spiral out of control in a place thought to have defeated the virus. Lombardy, which has a population of 10 million, has seen an average of 115 daily deaths from Covid-19 in the past week, compared to just four deaths per day in early October. About half of the deaths and hospitalizations in the region occur in Milan.