The count of coronavirus cases in Italy is probably ten times higher than the official figure of 64,000, said the head of the agency collecting the data today.
Angelo Borrelli said it is “credible” to suggest that up to 640,000 people may have been infected, since only a portion of them received the necessary tests.
Tests for the disease have often been limited to people seeking hospital care, with health services stretched to the limit on the epidemic scale.
The latest data show that 6,077 people died in Italy in just one month, almost double the number of victims that China suffered.
Military and medical personnel wearing protective suits and masks for transportation transports coffins from a depot in Ponte San Pietro, near the hidden city of Bergamo in Italy
A masked Italian soldier stands in a street near an army truck in Ponte San Pietro, while soldiers are lined up to transport dead bodies in northern Italy
Doctors and nurses wearing protective suits now treat patients with coronavirus in the intensive care unit of the VIzzolo Predabissi hospital in Milan
“A report of one out of 10 certified cases is credible,” head of the Civil Protection Agency Angelo La Borrelli told La Repubblica newspaper.
The missing cases could help explain the high mortality rate in Italy of around 9.0 percent, higher than in Great Britain, France or Spain and much higher than in Germany.
Borrelli said that the greatest difficulty for Italy is the lack of masks and fans in intensive care.
The medical shortage has haunted the health system since the infection first surfaced in the affluent northern region of Lombardy on February 21.
Italy is trying to import stocks from abroad, but Borrelli said that countries like India, Romania, Russia and Turkey have blocked these sales.
“We are contacting the embassies, but I’m afraid there will be no more masks from abroad,” he said.
Others have turned to more inventive solutions, with at least one startup company converting commercial diving masks into emergency fans.
However, Borrelli also played cautious notes of optimism after two successive decreases in the daily mortality rate in Italy.
The number of new deaths dropped from a world record of 793 on Saturday to 651 on Sunday and 601 on Monday.
The number of officially registered new infections also decreased from 6,557 on Saturday to 4,789 on Monday.
Masked personnel transport a coffin to an army truck in Ponte San Pietro, near the city of Bergamo, where the local morgue and crematorium were swept away
Army trucks transport coffins from a depot in Ponte San Pietro, with the death toll in Italy accumulating – although in the last two days it has slowed down
“The measures we took two weeks ago are starting to produce effects,” said Borrelli, two weeks after Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte ordered a national quarantine.
The Lombardy region around Milan has started imposing fines of € 5,000 (£ 4,600) on those who are out without a good excuse.
Initially, some blockade measures were expected to end this week, but were extended until April.
Borrelli said that further data in the coming days will help understand “if the growth curve is really flattening out”.
But Borrelli and other Italian medical officials have been extremely cautious in drawing firm conclusions from the two-day drop.
Italy’s daily deaths are even higher than those officially recorded in China at the height of its crisis in central Hubei province of Wuhan.
They are also taller than those seen anywhere else in the world, forcing the army to carry coffins as cemeteries and mortuary are overwhelmed by the crisis.
The head of health has not tried to blame anyone or any single factor for the fact that Italy is now at the forefront of the global crisis.
“From the beginning, people have behaved in a way that has fueled the national problem,” said Borrelli.
A uniformed soldier wearing gloves and a mask walks away from a truck where personnel in protective suits loaded the coffins from a depot in Ponte San Pietro
Medical workers wearing protective suits look today at a screen in the intensive care unit of the Vizzolo Predabissi hospital in Milan
A medical professional works next to the bedside of a patient who is surrounded today by medical equipment at the Milan hospital
But he pointed out a Champions League match between Italian Atalanta and Valencia’s soccer teams in Spain at San Siro stadium in Milan on February 19 as a particularly serious mistake.
40,000 fans attended and celebrated the victory of the local team in the middle of the night.
“Now we can say, in hindsight, that he was potentially a detonator,” said Berrelli of the game.
The epidemic seems certain to leave the already fragile Italian economy in pieces, with most of the companies ordered to close.
Most of the big global banks think that Italy has already entered a deep economic recession that could be more serious than anything seen for decades.
The government wants a bailout fund for eurozone states to be distributed without restrictions, a request that puts Rome grappling with the richer northern nations.
Currently, the so-called European Stability Mechanism (ESM) can only help euro area countries if they adjust their economic policies to overcome the problems that have led them to seek financial assistance.
But Deputy Economy Minister Antonio Misiani said that the emergence of the coronavirus has made these restrictions superfluous.
“The only acceptable condition is to use the resources of the ESM to manage the health and economic emergency,” he said, starting a possible battle with Brussels on the best way out of the crisis.
An Italian priest, 72 years old, dies of coronavirus after donating a respirator to a younger patient
Giuseppe Berardelli, 72, from Casigno in the most affected region of Lombardy, died in a local hospital
By Chris Pleasance for MailOnline
It has been revealed that an Italian priest died of coronavirus after giving a respirator that his parishioners bought for him to a younger patient.
Giuseppe Berardelli, 72, from Casigno in the Lombardy region most affected in Italy, died in a local hospital in recent days after being diagnosed with the virus.
Berardelli had been given a respirator – which is desperately available – by parishioners concerned about his health, but decided to give it to a younger patient who he did not know but who was struggling to breathe due to the virus.
The exact age and conditions of that patient are unknown, but younger patients who are able to access respirators have a much better chance of surviving.
The extraordinary case was revealed by Jesuit priest James Martin from the United States, who is also a consultant to the Vatican Secretariat for Communications.
The Italian magazine Araberara reported history for the first time.
Berardelli – a well-liked priest with basic health conditions – was remembered for his charity and love for motorcycles.
James Martin, an American Jesuit priest and a Vatican consultation, revealed on Twitter the news of Berardelli’s death, praising him as a “martyr of charity”
Lombardy is at the center of the coronavirus crisis in Italy, reported more than 300 deaths yesterday and represents almost half of the nation’s total (in the photo, the ball bearers take the coffin of a victim for burial in a cemetery in Lombardy )
Praising him on Twitter, Martin wrote: “Greater love has no person …” (Jn 15:13)
“He is a” martyr of charity “, a saint like St. Maximilian Kolbe, who volunteered to take the place of a convict with a family in Auschwitz and was killed.
There are at least 60 priests among the 6,077 virus victims in Italy, most of whom were over 70 years old, according to Catholic Herald.
During a mass in early March, Pope Francis, 83, invited Italian priests to “have the courage to get out of the sick” amid the rapid pandemic.
‘We also pray to God for our priests, so they have the courage to come out of the sick, bringing the strength of the Word of God and the Eucharist,’ he said.
“Accompanying healthcare professionals and volunteers in the work they are doing.”
The names of 51 diocesan priests who died after contracting the coronavirus were published in the newspaper Avvenire Sunday.
The publication also noted that nine other deaths had been reported in religious communities across Italy.
Some of these priests had basic health conditions, it was said, and the youngest to die was 53-year-old Paolo Camminati, the parish priest of the Madonna of Lourdes in Piacenza.
Five other priests who tested positive for Covid-19 also died in the same city.