Coronavirus – Italy sees highest one-day death toll as 168 die and cases tops 10,000

ITALY has recorded 168 new coronavirus deaths today – bringing the terrifying new total to 631.

The country's death toll rocketed by more than a third, making it the biggest daily jump yet.

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The total number of cases in Italy rosen to 10,149 from 9,172, according to the Civil Protection Agency.

At least 877 people were are intensive care.

The latest grim statistics mean there are now more than 4,000 global coronavirus deaths, with more than 1,000 outside China.

It comes one day after prime minister Giuseppe Conte placed the whole country under lockdown.

The move will see all public events banned, cinemas, gyms and pubs closed, funerals and weddings cancelled and sporting matches including Serie A games suspended.

Within minutes of the announcement, supermarkets and late night stores across Italy reported a surge of panic buying.

Pictures show huge queues of people outside shops as shelves were left empty.

There were also reports of vital medical supplies being looted as chaos grips the country.

Marco Damonte Prioli, director of a hospital in the Liguria region of Italy, told the Wall Street Journal: “These are episodes of looting…at a time when these health devices are so important.”

The desperate bid to halt the coronavirus was announced last night, as the Italian PM extended a lockdown area already covering much of the north to cover the whole country.

One Italian doctor said his hospital was being "overwhelmed" by the "tsunami" of patients.

Dr Daniele Macchini, who works at Humanitas Gavazzeni hospital in Bergamo, northern Italy, wrote on Facebook: "The war has literally exploded and the battles are uninterrupted day and night.

"The results of the swabs now come one after the other: positive, positive, positive. Suddenly the emergency room is collapsing."

Italy on lockdown

  • Italians told to stay home and “limit social contact as much as possible”
  • All public events banned, with sporting matches including Serie A games suspended
  • Weddings and funerals cancelled, with cinemas, gyms and pubs closed
  • Travel only allowed for “urgent, verifiable work situations and emergencies or health reasons”
  • Public and private companies encouraged to put their employees on leave
  • Mortgage payments suspended, with debt moratoriums offered to small firms and households

Doctors now face having to make life-or-death decisions about who to treat, with medics told to consider a patient's age and their chances of survival.

Dr Christian Salaroli told the Brussels Times: "If a person between 80 and 95 years old has severe respiratory failure, it’s likely we will not go ahead.

"If they have multi-organ failure, with more than two or three vital organs, it means that their mortality rate is 100 per cent."

Dr Giovanni Rezza, head of infectious disease at the National Institutes of Health, attributed the high rate to the fact that Italy has the world’s oldest population after Japan.

The median age of Italy’s virus-related dead is 80.

Mr Conte has said people would only be allowed to travel for work or family emergencies.

He said the drastic measures had been introduced because the country had "no time left".

Mr Conte said that the best thing for Italians was to stay at home.

He said: "We want to guarantee the health of our citizens. We understand that these measures will impose sacrifices, sometimes small and sometimes very big.

"But this is a time where we must take responsibility for ourselves."

He added: "We have to limit the spread of the virus and prevent our hospitals from being overwhelmed.

"I will take responsibility for these measures. Our future is in our hands.

"No more nightlife…we can't allow this anymore since they are occasions for contagion."

Schools and universities will remain closed until April 3 beyond the original extension of March 15.

Under the new decree, people can face fines and up to three months in prison for breaking quarantine rules.

Checkpoints on motorways, toll booths, train stations and airports are expected to be introduced today.

Payments on mortgages will be also suspended across the country, Italy’s deputy economy minister said on Tuesday.

Earlier on Monday, six inmates died amid riots at prisons across the country after authorities suspended all visits from family and friends.

The trouble began in the northern city of Modena after inmates at the Sant'Anna prison were told all visits had been suspended.

Three people were reported to have died at the prison, while a further three died after being transferred from there.

At San Vittore prison in Milan, inmates set fire to a cell block, then climbed onto the roof through windows and unfurled banners.

At a prison in the southern city of Foggia, about 20 inmates managed to break out of the building during protests.

There were also riots at several other jails across the country.

Brits have been advised against "all but essential" travel to Italy after "confusing" FCO advice left hundreds of holidaymakers' plans in chaos.

Many British flights returning home were allowed to land with no checks.

However the Foreign Office last night said anyone travelling back to Italy should now self isolate for a fortnight.

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