The healthcare system in Italy's Lombardy region is so strained from the new coronavirus, officials are asking doctors to come out of retirement and nursing students are being fast-tracked to graduation

An Italian army soldier blocks off a road leading to the village of Vo'Euganeo, in Italy's northern Veneto region, on Friday, Feb. 28, 2020. Vo'Euganeo is the epicenter of the Veneto cluster of the new virus. (Claudio Fulan/LaPresse via AP)

  • Officials in the Lombardy region of Italy are looking to pull in retired doctors and nursing students who are close to graduating to combat the massive number of COVID-19 patients in the region, the Associated Press reported.
  • More than half of the over 2,000 confirmed new coronavirus infections in Italy are in the Lombardy region.
  • A little less then 10% of Lombardy's COVID-19 cases need ICU treatment.
  • Ten percent of doctors and nurses in the Lombardy region have already caught the novel coronavirus are in quarantine themselves.
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In the Lombardy region of Italy, the epicenter for the novel coronavirus outbreak in the country, officials are looking to pull doctors out of retirement and fast-track nursing students that are close to graduating to help treat patients, the Associated Press reported.

According to the AP, 10% of health care workers in the region have caught the virus and can not attend to patients. More than half of Italy's 2,036 COVID-19 virus cases are in Lombardy. The country has seen 54 deaths, most of them in the region.

According to Reuters, regional authorities also want to keep schools closed and ban public gathering for another week, to keep the virus from spreading.

In some of the worst affected areas, around 4% of the population had contracted the virus, Reuters reported.

According to the AP, hospitals in the cities Lodi and Cremona had so many patients coming in last week, they had to close their emergency rooms and send some patients to other facilities. A little under ten percent of people with the COVID-19 virus in the region need to be admitted to the ICU, the head of the national Civil Protection agency, Angelo Borrelli, told the AP.

"Effectively some of the hospitals in Lombardy are under a stress that is much heavier than what this area can support," Dr. Massimo Galli, head of infectious disease at Milan's Sacco Hospital, told Sky TG24.

Officials are asking for retired doctors to be put back on the payroll and come in to treat patients. Additionally, nursing students who would have taken their final exams next month, will graduate in the next few day so they can also attend to new COVID-19 patients.

"We'll take anyone: old, young. We need personnel, especially qualified doctors," the region's top health official, Giulio Gallera told the AP.

In China, where the outbreak originated, the shortage of medical staff and the vast of majority of resources being redirected towards COVID-19, left many others who suffered from other ailments vulnerable. Some couldn't travel for necessary procedures, and other had lack of access to the medicine they needed to stay alive.

Italy currently has the worst outbreak outside of Asia. Many tourist attractions even in areas not impacted by the virus have been shut down to the public, for containment efforts.

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