24th of March 2020 - COVID - 19 Emergency - Kamel Ghribi Interview on Egyptian T.V. News Channel

Mar 26, 2020


How would you describe the current health situation in Italy?

Following two weeks of lockdown in Italy, the situation in the worst hit region of Lombardy is very slowly getting under control.

For the past 3 days, the new number of patients testing positive daily has decreased and stabilised. This now means that from a figure of + 6300, we have seen a drop to roughly +5000. We expect a further reduction after March the 26th.

The trend in Lombardy, the first region to have effected a total lockdown, is in sharp decline. The other regions should follow approximately a week or more because they closed later.
We therefore expect to see an end to this crisis towards the beginning of May with 100-120,000 positive patients and around 9,000-10,000 deaths.

Although perhaps difficult to believe, the mortality rate in Italy is actually not significantly higher than in other countries. Rather, we are simply carrying out more swab tests on all patients who have fever and other symptoms. In reality, there is a much lower number of positive cases than the actual numbers would suggest.
The true number of positives in Italy can now be estimated at between 120,000 and 250,000 people, therefore, with these figures, the mortality rate would be in line with that of other countries.

A total of 100 000 Covid-19 patients are estimated at the end of the crisis using the Italian counting criterion (using a buffer only for those with fever + other symptoms) and 10 000 estimated deaths. This may seem like a very high figure, but these numbers are very small if they are compared to what would have happened if no action had been taken at all by the Government. Such a scenario would have seen figures in the region of 20-30 million positives and consequently around 600,000-1 million deaths.

To sum up in one sentence, the situation is under control, it is normalising. We have strong reason to believe that we will no longer be in the crisis phase by mid-May.

What are the causes that aggravate the situation?

The situation has not worsened, the virus is not, as explained before, more lethal in Italy. The situation is following exactly the evolution predicted mathematical models. The total lockdown has made it possible to regain control of the situation and prevent new cases.

The health system has reacted promptly and is managing to cope with the crisis, albeit with difficultly as would be expected with such an unprecedented crisis and at great physical and psychological cost to all of the operators called in to cope with the crisis.

I would also like to specify that to date, the average age of the Covid-19 deceased in Italy is 78.5 years and that these patients also have multiple co-pathologies.

As operators within the private medicine sector, what is your contribution to helping the government cope with this crisis?

The San Donato Group is a private group fully integrated into the public health system; we carry out 85% of our activity within the national public health system.

During this crisis, we are playing a central role. GSD represents 13% of all beds being used in the Lombardy public health system. For example, only today we admitted 1700 Covid-19 patients to our facilities out of a total of 9200 Covid-19 patients hospitalised in Lombardy; that is to say, we have in our hospital structures 18% of all Covid-19 patients in the Lombardy region.

We make up 13% of the system and take on 18% of patients. Such figures have demonstrated just how efficient the private sector within the public system is in terms of being more responsive.
We have had 160 critically ill patients admitted to ICU (about 15.5% of all critical patients in Lombardy), for this reason we had to double the number of beds in ICU in 3 weeks.

We have also constructed an entire field ICU operating structure in less than 10 days. And we plan admit and accommodate 2000 new positive Covid-19 hospitalised patients, of which about 200 are already intubated in intensive care, over the next few days.

Now that the infections are slowly decreasing, and we are simultaneously discharging cured patients, this should allow us to cope with demand without the need for extra beds.