Sunday, March 22, 2020

Covid fatalities - screen screen screen & test test test


Why Covid-19 crisis is particularly bad in Italy

Specialists point to several factors why Italy’s death toll from Covid-19 is so high, one being the country’s average age

(AFP pic)

Why Italy?

Loads of people have been wondering why the beautiful Mediterranean country has become the new epicentre of the coronavirus pandemic.

Experts list a range of reasons – from Italy’s relatively high age to its strained healthcare system to some old fashioned bad luck – that add up to a disaster not seen in generations.

None of the answers alone explain why the nation of 60 million accounts for over a third of the nearly 11,500 deaths officially reported across the 7.7-billion strong world.

But other countries will want to examine each of these factors and address them through various preventive measures in their bids to avoid becoming the next Italy.

Old nation

One of the first factors almost everyone who looks at the figures points to is Italians’ average age.

It is high.

The median age of the overall population was 45.4 last year – greater than anywhere else in Europe.

Italy’s mortality rate among those infected with the virus is a relatively high 8.6%

(AFP pic)

It is also seven years higher than the median age in China and slightly above that of South Korea.
Figures released Friday showed the age of Italians dying of Covid-19 averaging out at 78.5.

Almost 99 percent of them were also suffering from at least one pre-existing condition or ailment.

Italy’s mortality rate among those infected with the virus is thus a relatively high 8.6 percent.

“Covid-19 fatalities are hitting older age groups hard,” University of Oxford professor Jennifer Dowd noted on Twitter.

“Countries with older populations will need to take more aggressive protective measures to stay below the threshold of critical cases that outstrip health system capacities,” Dowd said.

Yet Japan’s median age of 47.3 makes it an even older nation than Italy — and it has just 35 officially registered deaths.

So age is clearly not the only factor.

Bad luck

Some scientists think that it could really have been almost any other country after China.

“I think the question of ‘Why Italy?’ is the most important question and it has a simple answer: No reason at all,” Yascha Mounk of Johns Hopkins University told Canada’s CBC television.

“The only thing that makes Italy different is that the first couple of (locally-transmitted) cases arrived in Italy about 10 days before they arrived in Germany, the United States or Canada.”

Global spread of coronavirus

(AFP pic)

More than 4,000 people have died in Italy in the month since a 78-year-old builder from the Lombardy region of Milan became the first known European fatality of Covid-19.

European nations such as Spain and France are now following Italy’s trajectory and could theoretically have as many deaths and infections in a few weeks.

“If other countries are not going to react in exactly the right way, they are going to become Italy,” said Mounk.

Systemic collapse

The grim reality learned across Italy’s devastated north is that diseases start spreading much faster once the healthcare system reaches its saturation point.

Doctors have to start making life and death decisions about whom they help first — and why — when they run out of equipment such as respirators and even beds.

“Sometimes you have to weigh the chances of success against the patient’s condition,” Brescia hospital’s emergency unit head Paolo Terragnoli told AFP this week.

“We try to do our best for everyone, while doing an extra something for those who have better chances.”

Old and frail patients who are turned away are extremely contagious and — tragically but realistically — fated to die.

One of the Italian government’s gravest fears is that the virus will start spreading to Italy’s much poorer and far less equipped south.

The grim reality learned in Italy is that Covid-19 spreads much faster once the healthcare system reaches its saturation point

(AFP pic)

Screening and counting

The world has suddenly realised that it does not have enough test kits to screen for Covid-19.

Nations such as Italy dealt with this problem by only testing those who already exhibited symptoms such as a fever and a dry cough.

South Korea had the kits and the means to conduct more than 10,000 tests a day.

Germany followed a similar model and its death rate began to drop once even the mild Covid-19 infections began being counted.

This partially explains both why Italy’s mortality rate is so high and why Covid-19 was contained faster in some other countries.

Harvard University professor Michael Mina said that 100,000 tests per day “might be optimal” for a country such as the United States.


kaytee notes:

And in Malaysia we have Tabligh participants who until now have deliberately avoided screening and testing.

Mama mia???


  1. The Menteri Air Suam is a coward and a bum. He is running away from the front line.

    As a MBBS graduate he should be the one giving daily updates, assisted by the DG of the Ministry. Instead, after declaring a few days ago that the number of positive cases have "plateaued", as if that was some kind of achievement, and recommending drinking lots of warm water so the virus may be killed by our stomach acids (hooray, no need to wear masks any more), he has gone AWOL. The Health Ministry DG is left alone giving daily updates.

    When the number of cases eventually drops don't be surprised the Minister Air Suam will make the appearance, full Press Conference, to deliver the good news, take the credit....Mission Accomplished.
    Meanwhile the death toll grows.

    KT remains silent on this Minister Air Suam...ha ha mocking, no scolding no asking to RESIGN, like he did to Maszlee (deservedly so but nobody died wearing black shoes) and Kak Wan (not deservedly so). But people will die thinking they will not catch COV19 simply by drinking warm water.

    Does anyone even know we have not one but TWO Deputy Health Ministers?
    One of whom is Dr Noor Azmi Ghazali, also a physician.

    Where are these bums anyway?

    They should be rolling up their sleeves and be visible, giving moral and material support to the medical workers and giving daily updates to the public, like what Dr Dzul did, even though he was not a clinical doctor but a Toxicologist.

    We have yet to hear the inclusion of our extensive private medical hospitals in this fight with the virus. To a lesser extent our armed forces medical resources. GP clinics. Our government hospitals and clinics alone will not be able to cope. Don't think the virus will magically disappear on April may still be here with a vengeance, so what is our Plan B....?

    1. Methinks the MCO will be extended. No way the coast is clear by April 1. That would be a joke, pun intended.


  2. (And in Malaysia we have Tabligh participants who until now have deliberately avoided screening and testing.)

    It is better from the Tabligh cluster rather from the night clubs, discos, concerts, etc.. patrons/goers. This is because you can easily identify them, as they wear loose whites and skull caps, and have peppered beard. No problem of rounding them up. Moreover, each group has got an Amir (leader). Can get the respective Amir's details from Sri Petaling mosque. Before Sri Petaling mosque was built, the Tabligh centre was at Masjid India.