The warning comes from Italian doctor Giacomo Grasselli, medical director of the intensive care unit at the Policlinico Hospital in Milan who told Channel 4 News he has been dealing with more than 800 patients a day. Dr Grasselli urged the UK to “get ready” as he claimed even the rich and efficient health system of his region, Lombardy, in the north of Italy, will soon struggle to keep up with coronavirus.
He said: “Until now we’ve been able to deal with this huge number of patients and we have enough equipment.
“Clearly if the number of patients keeps increasing like this, we will get to a point – and I don’t know when this point will be – where the number of patients will exceed the resources.
“But you know Lombardy is a very rich region, a very modern region and it’s probably one of the richest regions in Europe.
“And I think that our health system is quite good but no matter how good or modern and efficient you are, if you don’t stop the spread of this disease, any health system in the world sooner or later will fail.
“Because you are like invested by a tsunami of patients.”
The UK’s approach to developing “herd immunity” against COVID-19 has been called into question by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Spokeswoman Margaret Harris said not enough is known about the science of the coronavirus, and that while “theories” can be talked about, the current situation requires “action”.
Her comments come as plans get under way to ban mass gatherings from next week as the Government looks to implement more extreme measures in the fight against COVID-19.
Boris Johnson had faced criticism for not taking such actions, despite similar steps being taken by other European countries as the pandemic worsens.
Emergency legislation bringing in beefed-up powers will be published next week and there could also be a move towards more people working from home, a Whitehall source said.
The announcement comes as the UK deals with a rising number of cases of the illness, increasing to 798, and a death toll of 11.
WHO spokeswoman Dr Harris questioned the UK’s approach to developing “herd immunity” against COVID-19, telling BBC Radio 4’s Today: “We don’t know enough about the science of this virus, it hasn’t been in our population for long enough for us to know what it does in immunological terms.
“Every virus functions differently in your body and stimulates a different immunological profile.
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“We can talk theories, but at the moment we are really facing a situation where we have got to look at action.”
On Friday, the UK’s chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance said it is hoped the Government’s approach to tackling coronavirus will create a “herd immunity” to the disease.
WHO said Europe has become the epicentre of the pandemic and Donald Trump indicated he might add the UK to a list of countries facing a US travel ban.
The total number of cases in the UK at the time of writing is 798, with 21 confirmed deaths.
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