Italian coronavirus deaths jump, dashing hopes that worst was over

Fatalities in Italy from coronavirus have surged in the last 24 hours, the Civil Protection Agency said on Tuesday, dashing hopes the epidemic in the world’s worst hit country was easing after more encouraging numbers in the previous two days.

The death toll rose by 743 on Tuesday, the second highest daily tally since the outbreak emerged in northern regions on Feb. 21, and up steeply from the 602 recorded on Monday.

Italy has seen more fatalities than any other country, with latest figures showing that 6,820 people have died from the infection in barely a month.

The total number of confirmed cases hit 69,176 on Tuesday, but with Italy testing only people with severe symptoms, the head of the Civil Protection Agency said the true number of infected people was probably 10 times higher.

“A ratio of one certified case out of every 10 is credible,” Angelo Borrelli told La Repubblica newspaper, indicating he believed some 700,000 people could have been infected.

The latest data comes as a disappointment to a country that has been in lockdown for two weeks, with schools, bars and restaurants shut and Italians forbidden from leaving their homes for all but essential needs.

On Monday the government closed all businesses not deemed to be essential to the nation’s supply chain of vital requirements, and after the latest figures Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte stiffened fines for people leaving their homes to up to €3,000 from a previous maximum of €206.

“Every one of us must play our part,” he told reporters at a news conference held by remote video link to avoid contagion.

“If everyone obeys the rules they don’t only protect themselves and their loved ones, but they will enable the whole national community to come out of this emergency.”

Current restrictions are due to remain in place until 3 April, but there is speculation the date will have to be pushed back given the continual rise in cases across the country.

A decree issued on Tuesday gave the government the power to extend the deadline to 31 July. However, Conte denied planning to keep the lockdown in place until that date, saying he hoped to loosen curbs “well before then”.

Investment bank Goldman Sachs forecast on Tuesday that the Italian economy, already teetering on recession before the outbreak hit, would shrink by more than 11% this year.

More on this subject: Coronavirus

Similar articles