The number of people infected with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the virus causing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), is dramatically increasing worldwide.
The first person-to-person transmission in Italy was reported on Feb 21, 2020, and led to an infection chain that represents the largest COVID-19 outbreak outside Asia to date. Here we document the response of the Emergency Medical System (EMS) of the metropolitan area of Milan, Italy, to the COVID-19 outbreak.
On Jan 30, 2020, WHO declared the COVID-19 outbreak a public health emergency of international concern.
Since then, the Italian Government has implemented extraordinary measures to restrict viral spread, including interruptions of air traffic from China, organised repatriation flights and quarantines for Italian travellers in China, and strict controls at international airports’ arrival terminals. Local medical authorities adopted specific WHO recommendations to identify and isolate suspected cases of COVID-19.
Such recommendations were addressed to patients presenting with respiratory symptoms and who had travelled to an endemic area in the previous 14 days or who had worked in the health-care sector, having been in close contact with patients with severe respiratory disease with unknown aetiology. Suspected cases were transferred to preselected hospital facilities where the SARS-CoV-2 test was available and infectious disease units were ready for isolation of confirmed cases.