The European Union’s hardest-hit country had 727 new deaths in the past 24 hours, which is the lowest figure in about a week. A day before that, 837 fatalities were recorded.
New cases rose to a total of 110,574, according to Italian health officials in a report from ANSA. This brings the total number of virus deaths to 13,155.
Meanwhile, the number of people who recovered rose by 1,118 to 16,847.
But some officials said they don’t trust the official figures that are being released by Italian authorities.
Bergamo Mayor Giorgio Gori wrote on social media that “I fear that the real figure is higher,” The Local reported. He added that the death count might be twice as high.
High Health Institute president Silvio Brusaferro, who has been giving updates daily, said Tuesday that the death count might be higher than the official figures. The figures don’t include people who died at home, in nursing homes, or people who died from the virus and weren’t infected, the Local reported.
“It is plausible that deaths are underestimated,” he said. “We report deaths that are signaled with a positive swab. Many other deaths are not tested with a swab.”
The government said it will keep its national lockdown in effect until April 13, said Health Minister Roberto Speranza, according to Bloomberg News. All nonessential businesses have been closed down and movement has been restricted across the country, putting extra strain on the economy.
The head of the county’s Civil Protection agency, Angelo Borelli, said that reopening the country by Easter, which is in mid-April, is highly unlikely.
Italians must “respect social distancing” measures that are in place because it’s “leading to a positive result,” he said, reported ANSA.
Elsewhere in Europe, Spanish authorities said 864 people died overnight from COVID-19, taking the country’s death toll to 9,053.
Germany, which has 72,914 confirmed infections, has fewer COVID-19 deaths, with 802 in its latest count.
“The reason why we in Germany have so few deaths at the moment compared to the number of infected can be largely explained by the fact that we are doing an extremely large number of lab diagnoses,” said virologist Dr. Christian Drosten, whose team developed the first test for the new virus at Berlin’s Charité hospital, which was established over 300 years ago to treat plague victims.