The country’s emergency agency, in announcing the deaths, said that more than 27,700 cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the Wuhan coronavirus, have been confirmed so far. That figure includes people who have recovered, state-run ANSA reported.
Italy’s prime minister, Giuseppe Conte, noted that the situation is still the most severe in Lombardy, which is located in the country’s north, saying authorities have given the region their “maximum attention.”
“The numbers have continued to grow,” Lombardy governor Attilio Fontana said to local media outlets. “We’re close to the moment where we will have no more intensive care beds.”
The country has been on lockdown over the pandemic since last week, as around 60 million residents have been told to stay at home and most businesses have been closed. All schools, sporting events, and other venues have been shut down.
Conte stressed that masks and other medical equipment are desperately needed to combat the coronavirus, which emerged in China late last year before it spread to every continent other than Antarctica. “The export of masks, suits, and face shields from Germany and France has been unblocked,” the prime minister said.
Italy’s national health institute chief, Silvio Brusaferro, said that it is not known if Italy is reaching its peak and may see the end of the epidemic soon, according to The Associated Press.
Brusaferro noted last week the vast majority of patients who have died from COVID-19 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 on Friday.
In nearby Austria, meanwhile, Chancellor Sebastian Kurz announced Sunday that gatherings of more than five people are banned.
“Austrians are being summoned to isolate themselves,” he said in a statement. “That means only making social contact with the people with whom they live.”
Over the weekend, both France and Spain imposed new measures, with Spain locking down the country and France ordering the closure of all non-essential public buildings.
“These are times of extraordinary difficulty,” said Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez in announcing the measures. “When this is over, we will be able to return to the streets and the terraces, to our work routines. We will visit friends and loved ones and take our children to the park … But until that moment comes, we will not lose our way.”