MSF begins COVID-19 response activities in four northern Italian hospitals

16 Mar 2020

Our teams in Italy are providing support to Italian health authorities in response to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. MSF staff are based in four hospitals in the northern Italian province of Lodi, part of the Lombardy region, the epicentre of the outbreak in the country.


The search and rescue vessel the Ocean Viking was in quarantine for 14 days in late February. Italian authorities say this is a precautionary measure in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. © Anthony Jean / SOS MEDITERRANEE / MSF

The MSF team in Lodi province is composed of Italian infectious disease specialists, anaesthetists, nurses, and logisticians who are bringing their global experience managing epidemics in the diverse countries where MSF works to support Italian hospitals. The MSF staff are working in collaboration with local health authorities and personnel of hospitals in the cities of Lodi, Codogno, Casalpusterlengo, and Sant’Angelo Lodigiano on a number of activities, including disease prevention and care for patients.

The addition of MSF personnel at Codogno hospital will make around 20 existing beds, that had gone unused due to a lack of staff, available again. The MSF team will work alongside doctors and nurses from the hospital's other departments to care for COVID-19 patients.

“We’ve met doctors and nurses in Lodi province who have been working tirelessly for weeks in an extraordinary situation. We are providing support to help with the huge needs and workload of local hospital staff in responding to this pandemic, to help care for patients.”

Dr Claudia Lodesani
An infectious disease specialist and president of MSF Italy, who is coordinating MSF’s COVID-19 response in Italy

The infectious disease support activities will reinforce prevention and control actions already implemented within the hospitals to avoid the transmission of the virus and guarantee the safety of health workers.

“In an epidemic like this, stopping the transmission of the virus is crucial," said Dr Lodesani. "In hospitals it is key to reduce the risks for frontline staff, a key factor to fight the epidemic. Outside, everyone must respect the instructions of the Ministry of Health to curb the infection and avoid further burdening hospitals, which need to continue to treat people for other illnesses and injuries.”

MSF is supporting the response in Italy because the country is among those worst affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Our teams are working in solidarity with the Italian people and the healthcare professionals on the frontline of the pandemic response.

We are also in contact with health authorities in other countries where we work regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. Given the pandemic's scale, MSF’s ability to support other countries will depend on the nature of the outbreak and on our capacity to deploy.


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Right now, Médecins Sans Frontières is providing much needed support and medical care in over 30 countries to counter the COVID-19 pandemic.
Our teams are also gearing up to confront potential outbreaks in the hundreds of areas we were already working before the pandemic struck. We are deploying medical staff, sending supplies and applying nearly 50 years of experience fighting epidemics to protect the most vulnerable and save lives. 

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