Italy rushes student doctors into service as death toll rises
ROME: Italy will rush 10,000 student doctors into service, scrapping their final exams, in an effort to help the struggling health service cope with the coronavirus which has claimed another 345 lives.
The death toll rose to 2,503 over the past 24 hours, the Civil Protection Agency said, while the total number of confirmed cases increased to 31,506 from a previous 27,980 - the largest number outside China.
The crisis has pushed hospitals to breaking point at the epicentre of the contagion in northern Italy and left other regions scrambling to strengthen their own health systems as the number of people infected rises nationwide.
"Lombardy is on the point of collapse. All the intensive care beds and respirators are being used," said Mr Matteo Salvini, head of the League party which governs the wealthy region.
University Minister Gaetano Manfredi said the government would let this year's medicine graduates start work some eight or nine months ahead of schedule and waive the mandatory exams they normally take before qualifying.
The graduates will be sent to work in general practitioners' clinics and at old peoples' homes.
This can free up more experienced colleagues who will be sent to the rapidly filling hospitals. - REUTERS, AFP