Former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi is responding “optimally” to treatment, but is in the “most delicate phase” of COVID-19, according to his long-time doctor.
The 83-year-old was admitted to hospital in Milan on Friday after testing positive for coronavirus earlier in the week.
Dr Alberto Zangrillo, who is head of intensive care at San Raffaele Hospital in the city, said at the time that Mr Berlusconi had the early stages of a lung infection.
He has a history of heart problems that required being fitted with a pacemaker several years ago.
Data from Italy’s Superior Institute of Health indicates men aged 80-87 have the highest COVID-19 death rate among all cases in the country – at 47%.
However, Dr Zangrillo has said he remains “cautiously optimistic” about Mr Berlusconi’s recovery, saying: “The patient is responding optimally to treatment.”
“This doesn’t mean we can claim victory because, as you know, he belongs to the most fragile category”, given his age.
He also suggested his patient would not be released anytime soon, adding that the virus “requires adequate treatment and takes its time”.
It is understood he remains in a VIP ward of the clinic.
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Dr Zangrillo has been criticised for suggesting at the end of May, when Italy’s lockdown had greatly slowed its rate of new infections, that “clinically speaking the virus doesn’t exist anymore”.
He has since acknowledged that statement was too strong and “off-key”, and was based merely on observing that fewer patients required intensive care at the time.
Mr Berlusconi, who turns 84 later this month, spent some of his summer holiday at his seaside villa on Sardinia’s Emerald Coast.
Many of Italy’s recent coronavirus cases have been linked to clusters in people who have been on holiday in Sardinia.
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