Italy’s coronavirus deaths hit 2,500, but rate of contagion slows

Rome, Italy’s novel coronavirus fatalities rose above 2,500 on Tuesday, but the speed at which the contagion is spreading seemed to be slowing down, fueling some hope that it may be nearing its peak.

In its daily bulletin, the Civil Protection Agency reported 345 new deaths, bringing the total to 2,503, about one-third of the global figure for the virus, Deutsche press agency (dpa) reported.

The total number of Italian contagions increased by 12.6 percent to 31,506. On Monday, the daily increase was 13 percent. In the previous four days, it ranged between 17 and 21 percent.

Recoveries from the virus were up 7 percent to 2,941, while intensive care patients – a closely watched figure given the shortage of hospital beds – rose by about 11 percent, to 2,060.

The figures “are within the trend of that that we have been experiencing in this period,” Civil Protection Agency chief Angelo Borrelli told reporters.

He said “next week” would probably be the time when it could be possible to verify whether government virus containment measures are having an effect.

Italy was placed under national lockdown on March 10, and authorities have been repeating that up to two weeks have to pass from that date to see any results.

Experts warned against any talk of a looming breakthrough.

“The peak [of the outbreak] cannot be predicted,” Antonello Maruotti, a statistics professor at Rome’s LUMSA university, told dpa. “We are still on an upward trend,” he added.

Maruotti is part of a team of statisticians, Stat-Group19, which is giving forecasts on the spread of the coronavirus in Italy, but only within a three-day period.

“I’m very confident about our same-day forecasts, quite confident about tomorrow’s, and a bit less about the day after tomorrow’s,” he said.

Maruotti’s forecast for Tuesday’s total contagion data – made before Borrelli gave the official figures – was a slightly more pessimistic 32,735.

For Wednesday, he predicted 38,207 cases, rising to 44,599 on Thursday. But his forecasts were due to be revised in the light of the latest data.

An internal government document leaked last week said the outbreak could peak as soon as on Wednesday, and could end in late April with around 92,000 contagions. But many see this as overly optimistic.

Italy is facing the worst coronavirus crisis after China, where the outbreak originated. The situation is particularly alarming in Lombardy, the northern region around Milan.

In Bergamo, the worst affected province in Lombardy, with nearly 4,000 cases, the local hospital ran out of intensive care places for Covid-19 patients, the ANSA news agency reported.

The region is scrambling to set up a new hospital in a former exhibition Centre in Milan, with 400 beds for intensive care patients.

Donations have poured in for the project, including 10 million euros ($11 million) from former premier and billionaire Silvio Berlusconi.

Meanwhile, the Italian Medicines Agency AIFA said it authorized a study testing the use of anti-arthritis drug tocilizumab on 330 Covid-19 patients.

Until April 3, Italians are not supposed to leave their homes unless for work, food shopping and other urgent needs. Police can stop anyone to question where they are going.

The Interior Ministry said officers stopped 832,000 people between Wednesday and Monday, and pressed charges against more than 36,000 rule-breakers.

Source: Bahrain News Agency