Italy records more than one million coronavirus cases as doctors continue to push for lockdown

Italy records more than one million coronavirus cases as doctors continue to push for lockdown
Police officers patrol central Milan in "red zone" region Lombardy. Photo: Miguel Medina/AFP
The total number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Italy passed the symbolic one million mark on Wednesday, according to official data.
 Italy recorded almost 33,000 new infections in the last 24 hours to reach 1,028,424 in total since the pandemic began, according to health ministry figures.
 
Deaths are also rising fast, with another 623 reported, taking the total to 42,953.
 
Italy was the first in Europe to be hit by the outbreak earlier this year, sparking an unprecedented national lockdown that curbed infection rates
but devastated the economy.
 
After a lull over the summer, cases have been on the rise again in recent weeks, in step with much of the continent.
 
Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte's government last week brought in a nationwide overnight curfew and early closing for bars and restaurants, shutting them altogether and further restricting residents' movements in regions where the infection rates are highest.
 
 
Several regions, including hard/hit Lombardy, have been declared “red zones” and placed under rules similar to those seen in lockdown.
 
But medical experts are pushing for tougher national measures, amid warnings that health services are already buckling under the pressure.
 
Massimo Galli, the head of the infectious diseases department at Milan's renowned Sacco hospital, warned on Monday the situation was “largely out of control”.
 
Italian media reports the government is looking at whether or not lockdown may now be necessary.
 
In an interview with La Stampa newspaper on Wednesday, Conte said he was working “to avoid the closure of the entire national territory”.
 
“We are constantly monitoring the evolution of the contagion, the reactivity and the capacity of our health system to respond,” he said.
 
“Above all we are confident that we will soon see the effects of the restrictive measures already adopted.”
 
Italy is the 10th country to pass the million cases mark, after the United States, India, Brazil, Russia, France, Spain, Argentina, the United Kingdom and Colombia, according to an AFP tally.

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