Italy toll surges to nearly 3,000 with 475 new deaths

Rome, March 18 (IANS) Coronavirus-ravaged Italy, which had recorded 300 plus deaths for three days running from Sunday, on Wednesday hit a new high of 475 deaths in the last 24 hours.

The latest deaths have taken the toll in the country, the worst-affected in Europe and second globally after epicentre China, to 2,978, while the total number of confirmed cases rose to 35,713 from 31,506 a day earlier, the BBC reported.

Italy had reported 345 deaths in the past 24 hours on Tuesday, after 349 on Monday and 368 on Sunday.

The majority of new deaths have occurred in the northern Lombardy region, which contains Milan. Hospitals there are reportedly at breaking point and retired doctors and nurses are being asked to return to work, the BBC said.

“I make a heartfelt appeal to all the doctors, nurses and medical personnel who have retired in the last two years… to help us in this emergency,” Lombardy Governor, Attilio Fontana, said earlier on Wednesday.

A similar situation is reported across the rest of country. The government is trying to plug gaps in its stretched healthcare system, and has even pushed 10,000 student doctors into service nine-months ahead of schedule.

More widely, officials have not ruled out extending the full lockdown beyond the start of April. Bars, restaurants and most shops in Italy have closed as have schools and universities. Nearly all Italians have been told to stay at home.

But even with these restrictions the number of cases – and deaths – continues to rise.



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