Italian health officials announced that 250 people died of coronavirus in a single day across the country, bringing the death toll to 1,266 and also confirming nearly 15,000 cases in the worst outbreak outside of mainland China.
Italy’s emergency commissioner, Angelo Borrelli, confirmed the death toll in a daily update on Friday, adding that 1,439 people have recovered so far, state-backed ANSA reported. Yesterday, 189 people died of the virus while a day before that, nearly 200 died.
The head doctor in the country’s health agency, Silvio Brusaferro, noted the vast majority of patients who have died from COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, are over the age of 80. “The peak of mortality is between 80 to 89 years,” he said, ANSA reported.
“Social distancing is the key to reducing the spread of the infection. The coming weeks will be decisive and will depend on the behavior of each individual citizen,” Health Minister Roberto Speranza said.
To curb the epidemic, Italy has enacted the strictest controls inside Europe, banning public gatherings and closing down all businesses except for stores that essential items such as groceries and medical items.
“Our habits must be changed, changed now. We all have to give up something for the good of Italy. When I speak of Italy, I speak of our dear ones, of our grandparents and of our parents,” Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said earlier this week in announcing that the entire country, not just the northern regions, were placed on lockdown. “We will succeed only if we all collaborate and we adapt right away to these more stringent norms.”
The virus has also claimed the life of the head of a medical association in a northern Italian region, according to state media.
Dr. Roberto Stella, 67, died of COVID-19 in a hospital in Como, where he was being treated for respiratory failure, ANSA said.
Italy’s National Federation of Doctors and General Practitioners mourned his death and noted his contributions as the country tries to stop the spread of the virus, reported CNN.
“He was the example of the capability and hard work of family doctors,” Silvestro Scotti, national secretary of the federation, said in a statement. “His death represents the outcry of all colleagues who still today are not equipped with the proper individual protection needed.”
The virus, which emerged in Wuhan, China, last year, includes symptoms of a cough, fever, respiratory problems, and shortness of breath.