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What often gets lost in the reporting of Italy’s dire COVID-19 statistics is that the suffering has been disproportionately borne by the northern region of Lombardy, one of Europe’s wealthiest and most productive areas. As of March 29, Lombardy held the grim record of over 41,000 novel coronavirus cases and 6,300 deaths (42% and 59% of Italy’s total, respectively).
To Lombardy’s east lies Veneto, a region which is faring remarkably better despite experiencing sustained community spread early on.
Figure 1. Cumulative number of fatalities in select regions, by number of days since 10th fatality
The trajectories of these two regions are being shaped by a myriad of factors, including Lombardy’s greater population density and higher number of cases when the crisis erupted. But some notable differences have to do with policy choices local authorities made early in the cycle, as well as crisis management approaches developed over the last several weeks. (Italy’s health care system is decentralized, giving regions considerable autonomy in these matters).
While Lombardy and Veneto applied similar approaches to social distancing and retail closures, Veneto took a more aggressive tack on active surveillance, including testing, tracing, and isolation (at home and in medical facilities). Six elements of Veneto’s strategy stand out:
- Relentlessly scale testing capacity
- Target mildly symptomatic cases
- Focus on home diagnosis and care
- Systematically trace contacts
- Establish a hub and spoke system of dedicated hospitals for COVID-19 patients
- Emphasize health care and other essential workers
Vir: Michele Zanini, Medium