Italy will rush 10,000 student doctors into service, scrapping final exams

Italy will rush 10,000 student doctors into service, scrapping final exams
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Italy plans to rush 10,000 student doctors set to graduate this year into service without taking the final exams typically required beforehand amid the coronavirus outbreak.

University Minister Gaetano Manfredi said the government is permitting this year’s student doctor graduates to work about eight to nine months early and is waiving the medical exams as the coronavirus pummels the country, Reuters reported.

"This means immediately releasing into the National Health System the energy of about 10,000 doctors, which is fundamental to dealing with the shortage that our country is suffering," he said in a statement obtained by Reuters.

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The student doctors would be sent to work in general practitioners’ clinics and nursing homes, freeing up other doctors to head to the overflowed hospitals. 

Italy’s death toll increased to 2,503 people in the past 24 hours, with the number of cases jumping to 31,506 from 27,980, the Civil Protection Agency said, according to Reuters. The European country is suffering the largest amount of cases and deaths outside of China, where the virus is believed to have originated. 

Officials said hospitals in northern Italy, specifically the Lombardy region, are at their breaking point as they attempt to create more intensive care beds but are lacking qualified personnel and respirators, the news outlet reported.

In the past three weeks, 1,135 people have needed intensive care in the Lombardy region with only 800 beds available, said Giacomo Grasselli, the head of the intensive care unit at Milan’s Policlinico hospital.

"Lombardy is on the point of collapse,” said Matteo Salvini, head of the League Party, which governs the region, according to Reuters.

In the meantime, the Veneto region announced it will increase the number of tests conducted daily to about 11,300 from 3,000, Luca Zaia, the head of the region, said.

The country has been on lockdown, with law enforcement policing outdoor spaces, leading to 7,890 arrests Sunday, according to Reuters.