The effects of containment measures in the Italian outbreak of COVID-19

M. Supino*, Alberto D'Onofrio, F. Luongo, G. Occhipinti, A. Dal Co

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)
15 Downloads (Pure)


The COVID-19 pandemic is spreading worldwide. Italy emerged early on as the country with the largest outbreak outside Asia. The outbreak in Northern Italy demonstrates that it is fundamental to contain the virus’ spread at a very early stage of diffusion. At later stages, no containment measure, even if strict, can prevent the saturation of the hospitals and of the intensive care units in any country. Here we show that it is possible to predict when the intensive care units will saturate, within a few days from the beginning of the exponential growth of COVID-19 intensive care patients. Using early counts of intensive care patients, we predict the saturation for Lombardy, Italy. We also assess short-term and long-term lockdown effects on intensive care units and number of deaths. Governments should use the Italian outbreak as a precedent and implement appropriate containment measures to prevent the saturation of their intensive care units and protect their population, also, and above all, in anticipation of a possible second exponential spread of infections.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1806
Number of pages8
JournalBMC Public Health
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 26 Nov 2020


  • COVID-19
  • Italian
  • Italy
  • outbreak
  • northern Italy
  • pandemic
  • intensive care
  • Lombardy
  • lockdown
  • infections


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