Coronavirus cases in Italy reach nearly 120,000, with 14,681 victims now dead but figures show death and infection rates are continuing to slow
- Italy’s death toll and infection rate from coronavirus continuing to slow down
- The death toll is now close to 15,000 while 120,000 have been infected with it
- But today is the fifth consecutive day in which the number of new cases remained within a range of 4,050-4,782
Italy’s coronavirus death toll has climbed by 766 to 14,681 today, with infections reaching nearly 120,000, though death and infection rates are continuing to slow.
Friday’s figures, revealed by the Civil Protection Agency, are marginally higher than the daily tally of 760 fatalities registered a day earlier.
The number of new cases was slightly lower, growing by 4,585 from a previous 4,668, bringing total infections since the outbreak came to light to 119,827.
However, in positive news, today is the fifth consecutive day in which the number of new cases remained within a range of 4,050-4,782, with the government hoping that the epidemic has hit a plateau, ahead of an expected decline in the near future.
Today also saw the joint-lowest percentage rise in new cases at four per cent and the lowest percentage rise in new death at five per cent.
Two nurses in protective gear look after a patient in a coronavirus intensive care ward in Cremona, in the region of Lombardy which has been hardest hit by the crisis
Italy hit a daily peak of 6,557 new cases on March 21.
The daily death toll has been between 727 and 766 for the last three days, down from 837 on Tuesday and a peak of 919 on Friday of last week.
Of those originally infected nationwide, some 19,758 had fully recovered on Friday, compared to 18,278 the day before. There were 4,068 people in intensive care, up from a previous 4,053.
Italy has registered more deaths than anywhere else in the world and accounts for more than a quarter of all global fatalities from the virus.
In Lombardy, the epicentre of the outbreak, the daily death toll was slightly lower than the day before, coming in at 351 against 367 on Thursday, but new infections rose to 1,455 versus 1,292.
The dead in Italy include at least 73 medics, according to a doctor’s federation which is keeping a daily tally.
Another five were added to the count today, including a cardiologist, a general practitioner and a medical professor.
Around 10,000 medical workers are believed to have been infected, taking them out of service when they are critically needed.
The Italian health system has been overwhelmed by the scale of the crisis, especially in northern Italy where the contagion started in late February.
Italy already has the highest death toll in the world, with Spain second, although the United States has the most cases in the world.
Civil protection agency chief Angelo Borrelli said today that Italy’s lockdown measures were likely to continue into May.
The restrictions including a ban on non-essential business have already been extended to at least April 13.
In a radio interview with state broadcaster RAI, Borrelli was asked whether the measures would need to remain in place many more weeks.
‘Unfortunately they will,’ he replied. ‘I don’t believe this situation … will have passed by May 1, we have to be extremely rigorous.’
A medical worker uses a swab to take samples from a doctor today at a drive-through testing centre in Rome. At least 73 medics have died of coronavirus
Coffins of coronavirus victims are laid out in a shed before being taken away for cremation by military trucks in Ponte San Pietro near Bergamo today
Some of the coffins are laid out in Ponte San Pietro today. Even Milan has had to close the city’s main crematorium because it is overwhelmed by the number of deaths
A civil protection officer wearing a mask in Bologna today holds up a diving mask which will be used as a makeshift ventilator in Italian hospitals
The city of Milan has already shut its main crematorium for the rest of the month to deal with a backlog of bodies.
The capital of the hard-hit Lombardy region said it was seeing a ‘constant and progressive increase of the deceased awaiting cremation’.
A statement from the city council said the waiting time at the Crematorio di Lambrate had reached 20 days.
Any longer could cause ‘hygiene-sanitary problems’, the city council said on its website.
‘To help families in this difficult moment, starting Friday, it will be possible to bury loved ones at no cost,’ officials say.
The city of Bergamo north-east of Milan was receiving a steady shipment of new coffins throughout March to deal with the spiralling numbers.
Its was eventually forced to send out dozens of bodies a week for cremation to neighbouring towns, with coffins transported by the military.
‘The large number of victims has meant that Bergamo’s crematorium could not cope on its own,’ mayor Giorgio Gori said last week.
A woman walks with her dog through the quiet streets of Milan during Italy’s lockdown yesterday
Healthcare workers wearing protective suits move a suspected coronavirus patient out of a retirement home in Naples so he can be treated in hospital
A man wearing a makeshift protective mask walks down the street in Rome as Italy battles to bring its coronavirus outbreak under control
Prime minister Giuseppe Conte, who first imposed the lockdown measures in early March, today renewed his row with Brussels as he demands more EU money to fight the pandemic.
Conte wants the EU to start issuing joint debt – dubbed ‘coronabonds’ – but frugal Germany has long been against the idea.
European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen is instead backing an EU-wide guarantee that could raise €100billion (£88billion) to help social security funds.
She told Italians said these EU-backed loans were ‘demonstrating European solidarity’.
Von der Leyen had used a letter in the newspaper La Repubblica to apologise for an initially slow response from other European nations.
‘Today Europe is mobilising alongside Italy. Unfortunately, this has not always been the case,’ she admitted. ‘It must be recognised that in the early days of the crisis, in the face of the need for a common European response, too many have thought only of their own home problems.’
Conte retorted with his own letter in which he demanded that Brussels ‘show more ambition, more unity and more courage’.
‘When fighting a war, you must do everything possible to win and equip yourself with all the tools needed for the (subsequent) reconstruction,’ he said.
Conte said coronabonds would be ‘useful to finance the extraordinary efforts that Europe will have to put in place’.
He added that they ‘are in no way aimed at sharing the debt that each of our countries has inherited from the past’.
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