The outbreak of coronavirus has now claimed the lives of almost 5,000 people in Italy.
This evening it was announced that the country had suffered 793 deaths and 6,557 new cases in the space of one day.
Italy, which at the heart of western Europe’s outbreak, now counts 53,578 known cases, and 4,825 deaths in total.
In Lombardy, which has borne the brunt of Italy’s contagion, 546 died from Covid-19 in a day.
This marked the highest daily increase since the outbreak emerged.
Lombardy’s head of welfare, Giulio Gallera, said the number of cases in the region, which includes Italy’s financial capital Milan, had increased by 3,251 to 25,515.
Officials said that on Sunday a team of 65 Cuban doctors and nurses with experience in battling Ebola outbreaks will arrive in northern Italy to help in the hard-hit Lombardy town of Cremona.
Medical personnel transport the first patient affected by COVID-19 to an ICU tent a Samaritan’s Purse Emergency Field Hospital near Milan
(Image: Getty Images)
The country imposed further draconian restrictions on public life on Friday in an increasingly desperate effort to halt the disease’s spread.
The mayor of the most badly affected city, Bergamo in the affluent northern region of Lombardy, said the true number of fatalities from the pandemic in his area was four times higher than was officially reported so far.
“Many of the elderly are dying in their houses or in old people’s homes, without anyone testing them either before or after they die,” Giorgio Gori told the Huffington Post.
He added that a dozen mayors of other cities had confirmed the same thing to him.
A paramedic in Bergamo
(Image: Alamy Live News.)
A patient in a Lombardy hospital wears a ventilator
(Image: Sky News)
Responding to requests by the governors of the worst-hit regions, the national government in Rome said that from Saturday all parks would be closed and people could only take exercise around their homes.
“We have to do even more to contain the infections..Correct behaviour from everyone is essential to win this battle,” Health Minister Roberto Speranza said after signing the latest directive.
Authorities have become frustrated in recent days to see people still out and about despite their appeals to stay indoors for all but absolutely essential needs.
The latest crackdown effectively bans jogging and bicycle rides, the only types of outdoor exercise that were allowed.
“We already have many hundreds of dead. What more is needed before people understand the tragedy we are facing?” said Sergio Venturi, head of the coronavirus response team in Emilia-Romagna, another wealthy northern region hard-hit by the virus.