Italy records biggest one day rise of 368 coronavirus deaths
MILAN: Italy recorded 368 more deaths from the coronavirus pandemic on Sunday, its highest one-day toll, amid growing concern about the ability of its strained health system to cope with the relentless increase in new cases.
While the virus has begun spreading rapidly across Europe, Italy remains the second most heavily affected country in the world after China, where the illness first emerged, and the outbreak has shown no signs of slowing.
The government is working urgently on procuring more protective equipment, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said, adding there was maximum attention on helping Lombardy, the northern region where the virus emerged over three weeks ago.
"Our priority is to keep doctors, nurses and all our health personnel safe," Mr Conte said in a statement, a week after his government imposed a virtual lockdown across the country in a bid to contain the spread of the virus.
With 24,747 cases and 1,809 deaths by Sunday - an increase of 368 or 25 per cent in the death toll in just 24 hours - Italy's experience has offered an alarming example for other European countries which have begun seeing sharp rises in cases over recent days.
Italy has the most elderly population in Europe, with almost a quarter aged 65 and over, rendering it especially vulnerable to a disease that has predominantly killed older people.
Spanish ministers said yesterday that a state of emergency over the coronavirus which has shut down much of the country will have to be extended beyond an initial 15-day period, and the government was also considering closing borders. Its 47 million people have been under partial lockdown since Saturday night.
"Obviously we will have to extend this situation... in 15 days I do not think that we will be in a position to win this battle," Transport Minister Jose Luis Abalos told RNE radio.
Spain is suffering Europe's second-worst outbreak after Italy. It registered nearly 1,000 new Covid-19 infections over the past 24 hours, raising the total number of cases to more than 8,700, the health ministry said yesterday. The number of deaths rose by nine to 297, the ministry's emergencies coordinator Fernando Simon said. - REUTERS