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HEALTH

Italy records lowest one-day virus death toll in a week as doubts are cast over accuracy of data

Italy on Wednesday reported 4.782 more coronavirus cases and 727 more deaths in the past 24 hours - the lowest number since March 26th although some officials have raised doubts about the accuracy of death toll data.

Italy records lowest one-day virus death toll in a week as doubts are cast over accuracy of data
An Italian flag flying at half-mast in Rome on Wednesday. Photo: AFP

Another 4.782 cases of the new coronavirus were confirmed on Wednesday, according to the latest daily figures from Italy's Civil Protection department.

This represented a slightly faster rise in the number of new infections for the first time in six days – the rise has been gradually slowing day by day.

In total Italy has now confirmed 110,574 cases of coronavirus since the outbreak began, including the deceased and recovered patients.

Another 1,118 people had recovered on Wednesday figures showed, making a total of 16,847.

The death toll was slightly lower on Wednesday than on Tuesday, but some doubts were raised about the accuracy of data on fatalities.

The death toll figure rose by 727, compared to Tuesday's 837.

This brings the total number of fatalities to  13,155.

 

Significantly there was only a rise of 12 in the number of patients in intensive care – 4,035 compared to 4,023 on Tuesday. In the early stages of the epidemic in Italy the number would rise by hundreds each day.

Italian officials acknowledge that their coronavirus data are incomplete because deaths from COVID-19 related causes outside hospitals are not counted.

The number of people who died after catching the virus without ever being tested is unknown.

So is the number of people who died of other causes because they could not get treatment at an overstretched hospital.

READ ALSO:  How Italy has changed the way it reports the daily coronavirus figures

 

Some newspapers are asking why jumps in March deaths reported individually by some cities do not appear to be reflected in the national tally.

“The death count does not add up,” the Il Fatto Quotidiano said on Wednesday.

Bergamo Mayor Giorgio Gori said Wednesday he does not trust the official figures and thinks the real toll may be twice as high.

The mayor tweeted a newspaper analysis suggesting that the COVID-19 toll in the Bergamo province was “between 4,500 and 5,000, and not the 2,060” officially reported.

He also cited a local statistics agency analysis showing that 26 percent of Bergamo province's 1.1 million people had the virus.

“I fear that the real figure is higher,” the mayor tweeted.

High Health Institute president Silvio Brusaferro also said on Tuesday that the death toll may be higher than the official figures, which don't include people who died at home, in nursing homes and those who were infected by the virus but not tested.

“It is plausible that deaths are underestimated,” he said.

“We report deaths that are signalled with a positive swab. Many other deaths are not tested with a swab.”

READ ALSO: Fears in Italy shift to growing number who can't afford to eat after shutdown

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TRAVEL NEWS

Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

The mandatory EU-wide mask requirement for air travel is set to be dropped from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still require passengers to wear masks on some or all flights

Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

Europe-wide facemask rules on flights are set to be ditched as early as next week in light of new recommendations from health and air safety experts.

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) dropped recommendations for mandatory mask-wearing in airports and during flights in updated Covid-19 safety measures for travel issued on Wednesday, May 11th.

The new rules are expected to be rolled out from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still continue to require the wearing of masks on some or all of flights. And the updated health safety measures still say that wearing a face mask remains one of the best ways to protect against the transmission of the virus.

The joint EASA/ECDC statement reminded travellers that masks may still be required on flights to destinations in certain countries that still require the wearing of masks on public transport and in transport hubs.

It also recommends that vulnerable passengers should continue to wear a face mask regardless of the rules, ideally an FFP2/N95/KN95 type mask which offers a higher level of protection than a standard surgical mask.

“From next week, face masks will no longer need to be mandatory in air travel in all cases, broadly aligning with the changing requirements of national authorities across Europe for public transport,” EASA executive director Patrick Ky said in the statement. 

“For passengers and air crews, this is a big step forward in the normalisation of air travel. Passengers should however behave responsibly and respect the choices of others around them. And a passenger who is coughing and sneezing should strongly consider wearing a face mask, for the reassurance of those seated nearby.”  

ECDC director Andrea Ammon added: “The development and continuous updates to the Aviation Health Safety Protocol in light of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic have given travellers and aviation personnel better knowledge of the risks of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and its variants. 

“While risks do remain, we have seen that non-pharmaceutical interventions and vaccines have allowed our lives to begin to return to normal. 

“While mandatory mask-wearing in all situations is no longer recommended, it is important to be mindful that together with physical distancing and good hand hygiene it is one of the best methods of reducing transmission. 

“The rules and requirements of departure and destination states should be respected and applied consistently, and travel operators should take care to inform passengers of any required measures in a timely manner.”

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