AGENCIES, Madrid/Rome: On Friday, Italy and Spain reported their deadliest day yet since the coronavirus outbreak began. Italy recorded its single biggest spike in the COVID-19 number of deaths at 919. Italy has on record a total of 86,498 infected cases and has become the second country after the US to overtake China in terms of the number of infections. On Friday the death toll in Italy reached 9,134.
As the pandemic spread with alarming speed, more than 300,000 cases have now been reported on the European continent alone.
The flip side is that Italian health officials say they were seeing a slight slowing down in new positive cases, two weeks into a nationwide lockdown, suggesting the peak period was over.
Despite the lockdown, the hardest-hit northern region of Lombardy reported a steep rise in deaths compared with a total of 5,402 deaths and 37,298 cases on Friday, compared with 4,861 deaths and 34,889 cases reported up to Thursday.
Spain’s health ministry on Friday reported another 769 deaths, lifting the total number of fatalities to 4,858. Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez convened an emergency cabinet meeting to try to chart a way out of the crisis rapidly engulfing the nation as confirmed cases climbed to 64,059 from 56,188 on Thursday.
The Madrid region has borne the brunt of the epidemic with 17,166 infections — just under a third of the total — and 2,090 deaths, or 51 per cent of the national figure.
Spain’s severely strained health service has 9,444 workers infected, a figure Amnesty International says is the highest among countries affected by the outbreak.
Despite a national lockdown since March 14 that extends until April 11, deaths and infections have continued to mount with officials warning this week would be particularly bad.