The effects of containment measures in the Italian outbreak of COVID-19

Supino, M. and D'Onofrio, Alberto and Luongo, F. and Occhipinti, G. and Dal Co, A. (2020) The effects of containment measures in the Italian outbreak of COVID-19. BMC Public Health, 20 (1). 1806. ISSN 1471-2458

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    Abstract

    The COVID-19 pandemic is spreading worldwide. Italy emerged early on as the country with the largest outbreak outside Asia. The outbreak in Northern Italy demonstrates that it is fundamental to contain the virus’ spread at a very early stage of diffusion. At later stages, no containment measure, even if strict, can prevent the saturation of the hospitals and of the intensive care units in any country. Here we show that it is possible to predict when the intensive care units will saturate, within a few days from the beginning of the exponential growth of COVID-19 intensive care patients. Using early counts of intensive care patients, we predict the saturation for Lombardy, Italy. We also assess short-term and long-term lockdown effects on intensive care units and number of deaths. Governments should use the Italian outbreak as a precedent and implement appropriate containment measures to prevent the saturation of their intensive care units and protect their population, also, and above all, in anticipation of a possible second exponential spread of infections.