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28 March, 2020 09:17:34 AM

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969 deaths recorded in Italy as pandemic nears peak

Global death toll surpasses 25,500
AFP, Rome
969 deaths recorded in Italy as pandemic nears peak

Italy recorded almost 1,000 deaths from the coronavirus yesterday in the worst one-day toll anywhere around the world since the pandemic began, as experts said the country's epidemic could be nearing its peak. Five weeks after the virus took root in Italy, the country's recorded cases rose to nearly 86,500 -- more than the United States, or China -- where the flu-like disease emerged in December.

The death toll surged by 969 victims to 9,134, the civil protection agency said, though that included 50 victims who had been missing from the previous day's count.

Contagion was slowing however -- Friday saw a 7.4 percent increase in cases, down from around 8.0 percent in previous days -- and the national health institute (ISS) cautiously suggested the lockdown may soon bear fruit. "I want to be clear on one point. We have not peaked yet," the institute's head Silvio Brusaferro said. "There are signs of a slowdown, which makes us believe that we are close, we could peak in the next few days."

More than 300,000 cases of the new coronavirus were recorded in Europe, with more than half registered in Italy (86,498) and Spain (64,059), according to an AFP tally at 1640 GMT yesterday. There were a total of 305,851 cases in Europe, including 18,289 deaths making it the worst-hit continent. Asia was at second place with 102,043 cases of which 3,683 were fatal. The tally, based on official figures, reflects only a fraction of the total cases worldwide.

Italy's lockdown came into effect nationwide on March 9, extending strict measures put in place earlier across swathes of the north, where the epidemic began.  Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said last week that the measures taken to close schools, bars and restaurants and restrict movement would be prolonged beyond the original end-date of April 3, without specifying until when.   Regional authorities in Italy's hard-hit north warned their hospitals were still under enormous strain.

"We have reached saturation point in intensive therapy, despite having doubled bed numbers," said the head of the Piedmont region, Alberto Cirio. "If this rate does not drop, we risk not being able to make it," he said, while appealing urgently for extra ventilators. The national commissioner for the emergency, Domenico Arcuri, said army helicopters were going to be used to speed up the distribution of emergency medical and sanitary supplies.

The number of doctors killed by the virus rose to 44 on Friday, with nearly 6,500 health workers infected, ISS said. The latest victim was doctor Annamaria Focarete, 70. One tearful colleague told AdnKronos news agency that "with her fighting spirit she seemed to have beaten it. Then a superinfection got her."Military doctors and nurses battling the disease in field hospitals were thanked by Italy's defence minister Lorenzo Guerini, who said they were making the country proud. "The battle is still a long one, we have a lot of work to do, but together we will succeed," he said via Skype.

BK

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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