Coronavirus: Italy deaths surge by 627 in biggest single-day increase since outbreak began

'We'll never know when the peaks will be' civil protection chief says as case numbers continue to rise

Vincent Wood
Friday 20 March 2020 18:23 GMT
Coronavirus in numbers

Italy has announced 627 more coronavirus deaths, the biggest day-to-day increase in the country's four-week epidemic.

The Mediterranean nation has been the worst affected country in the world for fatalities related to the Covid-19 virus, which has claimed the lives of more than 4,000 people in the country.

The total number of infected people also jumped significantly on Friday, increasing by 4,670 by 37,860.

There are 16,020 people in hospital, according to Il Giornale newspaper, while more than 19,000 are reportedly self-solating with symptoms.

It comes as the country, among the first to impose widespread travel restrictions to stem the pandemic, continues to deploy stringent measures on its citizens.

Authorities confirmed more than 9,000 people were caught violating laws intended to slow the virus during the nationwide lockdown on Thursday alone, while more than 50,000 have been charged with breaking enforced social isolation rules since their introduction.

Mayors and governors throughout the country have been demanding even stricter measures, with Italy's national government widely expected to respond soon.

For several days, authorities have said at briefings that the virus outbreak that emerged in northern Italy four weeks ago could reach its peak in a matter of days and the number of new infections might start going down.

But civil protection chief Angelo Borrelli urged caution, saying "we'll never know when the peaks will be" in advance. He told a press conference some experts had spoken of cases peaking "the next week or the week after".

Looking to boost morale, all Italian radio stations simultaneously broadcast the national anthem at 11am local time on Friday, followed by three iconic songs, "Azzurro," "La canzone del sole" and "Nel blu dipinto di blu".

However, the national mood remains low with officials particularly worried by the situation in the nation's second city, Milan.

The financial hub has so far seen more than 3,800 cases, a number that rose by 526 in 24 hours - the largest daily increase for any province in the northern region of Lombardy.

"The frontline is now in Milan," Massimo Galli, head of the infectious diseases unit at the city's Sacco hospital, told La Repubblica newspaper. "I am extremely worried by what is happening ... there are still too many people out and about."

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