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

Sunday, March 22, 2020
By Paul Martin

by: Arsenio Toledo
Sunday, March 22, 2020

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.

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.

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