Italy marked a grim milestone Thursday as its number of deaths from the rampaging global coronavirus outbreak surpassed those in China.
The country’s death toll hit 3,405 as of Thursday, an increase of 427 compared to Wednesday, according to Italy’s Civil Protection Department.
Italy has been staggering under the effects of the pandemic for weeks. Hospitals and even some morgues in the hard-hit northern Italian city of Milan are stretched beyond capacity.
Health officials are searching for new ways to get more doctors in the field, ranging from calling recent retirees back to work to rushing as many as 10,000 soon-to-graduate students into low-leverage situations before they finish with exams as a way to free up more experienced colleagues.
The entire population of more than 60 million is under lockdown, allowed to leave home only for “essential” activities like visits to grocery stores or pharmacies. Police and the military are roaming the streets on the lookout for people breaking quarantine. Everything from open restaurants and coffee bars to weddings and funerals is prohibited.
‘It’s so frightening. I keep worrying they aren’t telling us everything. If they are, then why do so many people keep dying?” said Rome native Annalisa De Crescenzo, 30, a legal secretary. “I feel fine. I keep telling myself that so I’ll stay calm. But I’m worried.”
On Wednesday, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said that the lockdown measures would be extended beyond their original April 3 deadline, and government officials said additional steps could be taken – such as limiting hours supermarkets can be open and closing urban parks – if current measures prove inadequate.
“The death toll is rising from people who were infected before the national lockdown” on March 9, Angelo Borrelli, head of Italy’s Civil Protection Department, said on Wednesday, when the death toll jumped by 475, the highest one-day total so far in Italy. He was referencing the estimated 12- to 14-day incubation period for the virus.