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Arsenio Toledo

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Image: Italy: 627 reported dead from coronavirus, number of confirmed cases jumps by 15 percent

Just one day after its total number of COVID-19 deaths surpassed that of China’s, Italy announced what looked to be the highest number of coronavirus deaths to be reported in a single day: 627.

In addition, the Mediterranean nation’s number of infections jumped by 15 percent, with the total number of confirmed cases now pegged at 47,021.

As of press time, Italy has 4,032 reported deaths due to the coronavirus, while China?—excluding Macao and Hong Kong?—with a population of over 1.4 billion people, only has 3,255 COVID-19 deaths.

In response to this massive death toll, the Italian government has called in the support of its armed forces, in order to help with the enforcement of rules related to the country’s strict national lockdown.

“[The request to use the army] has been accepted… and 114 soldiers will be on the ground throughout Lombardy… it is still too little, but it is positive,” said Attilio Fontana, regional president of Lombardy. This northern region is the hardest-hit region in Italy and where the outbreak began. “Unfortunately we are not seeing a change of trend in the numbers, which are rising.” Up until this point, the Italian army had been deployed to act as general security units. (Related: So many coronavirus deaths in Italy that the government has to call in the ARMY to haul away all the bodies in truck convoys.)

Fontana’s decision was influenced by a Chinese delegation of medical experts who are currently helping Italy deal with their coronavirus crisis. They said that the restrictions on movement were “not strict enough.”

Minister for Education Lucia Azzolina even believes that the government might extend the length of school closures beyond the set date of April 3, adding that schools would most likely reopen once the government is “certain of absolute safety.”

Officials have stated that the country’s current school year is considered complete and that students will either graduate or move on to the next year as usual.

Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera quoted Prime Minister Guiseppe Conte on Thursday as saying that the measures to tackle the pandemic in Italy, “both the one that has closed a lot of the country’s businesses and individual activities, and the one that concerns the school, can only be extended to the deadline.”

Officials all over northern Italy meanwhile, have been pleading with Conte’s government to enact tougher quarantine measures, even at the expense of the country’s flagging economy, such as extending the lockdown and deploying more law enforcement agents to enforce its regulations more strictly. Northern Italy accounts for the lion’s share of Italy’s gross domestic product.

According to Luciana Lamorgese, the Minister of Interior, police performed checks on more than one million Italians between March 11 and March 17 and found that nearly 50,000 people had violated the lockdown. The rules of the national lockdown include restrictions on the freedom of movement and a near-complete ban on all businesses except for essential services such as groceries, pharmacies and gas stations.

Conte’s spokesperson further told reporters that while the Prime Minister’s cabinet is heavily considering extending the country’s national lockdown, no official decision has been made yet.

The head of a Chinese delegation visiting Italy warned the country isn't sufficiently enforcing the lockdown.


Sun Shuopeng said Wuhan only saw infections peak after one month of strict lockdown

Situation in the Lombardy region continues to deteriorate

Lombardy has borne the brunt of Italy’s coronavirus outbreak. As of Friday, the Lombardy region alone has 22, 264 total cases, including 2,549 deaths. This represents nearly half of the country’s confirmed number of cases.

Daniela Confalonieri, an Italian nurse working in a hospital in Milan, the capital of Lombardy, said in an emotional video that the situation in her hospital was so out of control that they weren’t even counting the dead anymore.

“We’re working in a state of very high stress and tension,” said Confalonieri to a reporter from Reuters. “Unfortunately we can’t contain the situation in Lombardy, because there’s a high level of contagion.”

By the end of Confalonieri’s video, she begged the world to take the pandemic more seriously. “Look at the news that’s coming out of Italy, and take note of what the situation really is like. It’s unimaginable.”

"We're not even counting the dead anymore." Listen to this nurse's emotional plea about working during the #coronavirus outbreak in Italy. The country's death toll surpassed China this week at over 4,000 deaths.