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Doctors respond en masse to Italy's call to arms

Almost 8,000 answer Italian government’s request for special task force to help hospitals brace for coronavirus pandemic

Giada Zampano   | 22.03.2020
Doctors respond en masse to Italy's call to arms

ROME

Almost 8,000 doctors of different ages have responded to the Italian government’s desperate call for help to create a special task force that will help hospitals face the coronavirus pandemic.

Italian doctors and nurses have been working extremely long hours to assist and heal thousands of Italians infected with the virus.

Italy is the worst-hit country globally, with a record death toll of 4,825 and over 42,000 cases, according to the latest data.

Italian doctors and nurses have paid a high personal toll, as at least 18 doctors have died so far due to the coronavirus contagion.

The COVID-19 emergency has brought Italy’s notoriously efficient healthcare system close to collapse, pushing the government to open bids for an additional task force of 300 doctors able to work on the frontline. The response was surprising, with 7,923 applications in total.

"We have been literally overwhelmed by the best of Italy: doctors of all ages, from youths to 80-year-olds, who have decided to work on the frontline," said Regional Affairs Minister Francesco Boccia, adding they were expecting only around 100 volunteers.

Boccia added that the new team will start working in Lombardy -- the epicenter of the Italian outbreak -- and then will move across Italy wherever needed.

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte late on Saturday announced stricter lockdown rules to tackle the virus contagion, bringing to a halt all the country’s non-strategic firms amid what he dubbed “the worst crisis since World War II.”

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