Number of intensive care units (ICU) added due to COVID-19 in Italy 2020, by region

Before the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, Italy counted approximately 5.2 thousand intensive care units (ICU) across the country. The region with the highest number of ICUs was Lombardy. However, the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak showed that these resources were insufficient to face the pandemic. This required the installation of a considerable number of additional ICUs in order to keep up with the increasing number of patients in need of treatment, especially in the regions mostly hit. The region of Lombardy, which counted nearly one third of all the coronavirus cases in the country, had to increase the number of ICUs in its territory by 50 percent.   

A lack of resources

The coronavirus outbreak exposed the weaknesses of the Italian health service. Hospitals and medical staff had to face the overwhelming number of patients with limited resources. Government funding remained stable in recent years, but the number of hospitals decreased. This led to a general reduction in health care resources across the country, which resulted, for instance, in difficulties in accessing treatment and long waiting times.

A resilient system

Despite the shortcomings mentioned above, the national health service (in Italian, Servizio Sanitario Nazionale - SSN) has proved to be rather resilient and the country is considered to have one of the best healthcare systems worldwide, according to the World Health Organization. Moreover, Italians appear to be rather content with the health care services they receive. However, recent surveys showed that they admitted the national health system needed more funding and resources, especially in light of the coronavirus emergency.

Number of intensive care units (ICU) added due to COVID-19 in Italy as of April 2020, by region

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Release date

April 2020



Survey time period


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Statistics on "Hospitals in Italy"

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