This is by far the largest daily rise in fatalities since the outbreak came to light last month. The total number of confirmed cases in the country, which has been the hardest-hit from the outbreak of the deadly disease, increased by a quarter (25 percent) to 7,375 from 5,883 on Saturday – another record jump. Civil Protection Agency of those originally infected, 622 had fully recovered, compared to 589 the day before. The agency added 650 people are in intensive care versus a previous 567.
The huge surge in deaths and confirmed coronavirus cases comes after Italy ordered a virtual lockdown across much of the north of the country, including the financial capital of Milan, in a desperate attempt to try and contain the deadly outbreak.
The new restrictions, which were signed into law overnight by Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, will impact around 16 million people and will remain in force until April 3.
The virtual lockdown states people should not enter or leave the rich northern region of Lombardy, as well as 14 provinces in four other regions, including the cities of Venice, Modena, Parma, Piacenza, Reggio Emilia and Rimini.
Only people with proven, work-related reasons, or health problems will be able to move in and out of the exclusion zones.
Health workers have also had their leave cancelled.
Mr Conte told a news conference in the early hours of Sunday: “We are facing a national emergency.
“We chose from the beginning to take the line of truth and transparency and now we’re moving with lucidity and courage, with firmness and determination.
“We have to limit the spread of the virus and prevent our hospitals from being overwhelmed.”
Antonio Pesenti, head of the Lombardy regional crisis response unit, warned the health system in the northern Italian region is “a step away from collapse” as intensive care facilities begin to buckle under growing strain from the surge in new cases.
He told the Corriere della Sera newspaper “We’re now being forced to set up intensive care treatment in corridors, in operating theatres, in recovery rooms.
“We’ve emptied entire hospital sections to make space for seriously sick people.”
The World Health Organisation has backed the emergency steps being taken by Italy, which were in line with its guidelines for containing the spread of coronavirus.
But the announcement of the restrictions has not being met positively by everyone in Italy.
The head of Veneto complained he had not been fully consulted and was unhappy that three provinces in his region, including Venice, had been included in the lockdown.
Luca Zaia wrote on Facebook: “We do not understand the rationale of a measure that appears scientifically disproportionate to the epidemiological trend.”
This is a breaking story. More to follow.