Italy has added 683 more dead and 5,210 infections to its coronavirus toll, but its initial steep rise in cases has continued to level off two weeks into a nationwide lockdown.
The new figures brought the number of infections to 74,386 and placed Italy on track to overtake China in the next day or two in having the most reported cases in the world. Italy last week reported more dead than China and on Wednesday registered a total of 7,503 dead with the virus, confirming its place as the European epicenter of the pandemic.
The global death toll has now hit 20,334 deaths, of which 13,581 were in Europe. Italy is the most affected country ahead of Spain with 3,434 and China with 3,281, the country where the initial outbreak occurred.
Dr. Massimo Galli of Milan’s Sacco Hospital said that the infections being verified until now date from before many of the containment measures went into effect March 11. He told SKY TG24 that in his estimation the restrictions won’t be lifted any time soon.
“This is hard, but the numbers and facts say it,” Galli said.
His team at the Sacco Hospital has determined that the virus has been circulating in Italy since January 25-26, and that it took almost a month for it to become recognized, around February 20-21. That puts Italy as of March 3 at the same place Wuhan, China was on Jan. 25, he said, noting that China is only coming out of tight restrictions now, two months later.
Meanwhile in Spain, Deputy Prime Minister Carmen Calvo, who is 62, has contracted the coronavirus and remains hospitalized to be treated for her respiratory infection.
A statement from the prime minister’s office said Wednesday that Calvo’s latest diagnosis had turned positive after previous tests during the past two days were deemed inconclusive by doctors.
At least two other members of the Spanish cabinet are also recovering from the COVID-19 that is caused by the new virus, as well as the wife of Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez.