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Culture of death rears its head in pandemic

A mural depicts a nurse embracing the shape of Italy posted on the hospital of Pope John XXIII in solidarity with the health workers in Bergamo March 13, 2020. (CNS photo/Sergio Agazzi, IPA/ABACAPRESS.COM via Reuters) See ITALY-HOSPITALS-CHAPLAINS-DEATH March 13, 2020.

In Italy, one of the countries worst hit by COVID-19, reports have surfaced of doctors having to make life and death decisions in cases where limited resources are available, and that persons over the age of 80 would not receive attention and be “left to die”.

SNOPES, an online fact-checking resource, clarified on March 11 that Italy’s Society of Anaesthesiology and Intensive Care did issue a number of recommendations for determining who to prioritise.

One recommendation was that, in a situation where there are severe shortages of health resources, doctors must “aim to ensure intensive treatments for patients with greater chances of therapeutic success: it is therefore a matter of prioritizing the ‘greatest life expectancy’.”

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