Italian coronavirus cases likely '10 times higher than reported'

Henrietta Brewer
March 24, 2020

The coronavirus pandemic had claimed 6,077 lives in locked down Italy by Monday, with the cumulative number of confirmed cases reaching 63,927, according to new figures released by the Civil Protection Department.

The number of deaths also did not rise by as much.

Italy's top coronavirus response official Tuesday attributed two successive declines in the daily death rate to a painful national lockdown that appeared to be finally bearing fruit. The number of fatalities dropped for a second day in a row, after reaching an all-time high of 793 on Saturday.

The number of cases of coronavirus in Italy is probably 10 times higher than the official tally of nearly 64,000, the head of the agency that is collating the data said on Tuesday.

"In the next few hours we will see if the growth curve is really starting to flatten", he said.

There were just over 600 registered today compared to 651 yesterday.

The harshest restrictions are theoretically due to expire on Wednesday evening - although the government is all but certain to extend them in some form for weeks or even months.

Most other European nations and some USA states have followed Italy's example and imposed their own containment and social distancing measures created to stop the spread.

Borrelli also said that Italy was benefiting from the solidarity of several countries in its fight against the COVID-19, and especially thanked "the Russian Federation, the People's Republic of China, France, and Germany, all of which have provided us with additional staff and means against the epidemic".

The Lombardy region around Milan that was plunged into the epicentre of the pandemic has begun imposing 5,000-euro ($5,400) fines on those outside without a good excuse.

Borrelli said he supported the measures because it was "credible" to assume "there is one infection counted for every 10 that are not".

Without blaming anyone or any single factor, Borrelli said: 'From the very start, people were behaving in a way that fuelled the national problem'.

'We can now say, with hindsight, that it was potentially a detonator, ' Borrelli said of the match. There were 3,009 people in intensive care against a previous 2,857.

The numbers are up from an official tally on Saturday evening of 42,681 people actively infected, 4,825 deaths, and 6,072 recoveries.

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