Italy has Europe’s worst coronavirus death toll

Italy has Europe's worst coronavirus death toll
A member of the medical staff holds the hand of a coronavirus patient in April 2020 at the ASST Papa Giovanni XXIII hospital in Bergamo, Italy. Photo: AFP
Italy on Saturday became the European country with the highest pandemic toll, its new total of 64,036 deaths overtaking Britain, according to an AFP tally.

The Italian health ministry said that 649 people had succumbed to the virus in the previous 24 hours and that 19,903 new cases had been diagnosed.

Worldwide, the United States has reported the highest number of Covid-19 deaths, with 295,539 as of Saturday at 1100 GMT, followed by Brazil, India and Mexico.

According to the AFP tally for Europe, Italy overtook Britain, which has reported 64,026 deaths and is followed by France with 57,567 and Spain with 47,624.

EXPLAINED: Why is Italy's Covid-19 death toll so high?

“I am worried about the two weeks of Christmas holidays. We are up against a dramatic pandemic which is ongoing – the battle still has not been won,” Italian Health Minister Roberto Speranza warned.

Regional affairs minister Francesco Boccia said that unless people adopted a careful approach, “the risk of a third wave is almost certain.”

Under Italy's latest emergency decree, the government on Friday tightened the coronavirus rules over the Christmas and New Year period, as well as keeping many existing measures in place, as it seeks to avoid a new spike in infections over the holidays.

Italy was the first European country to suffer a wave of coronavirus infections earlier this year, and imposed a nationwide lockdown.

The UK's toll overtook that of Italy on May 6, with close to 30,000 fatalities, and for a while over the summer, it appeared that Italy had weathered the storm.

But despite the introduction of mass testing, cases began rising again in early autumn. Italy's national medical association said on Friday that a total of 251 doctors have now died from the coronavirus.



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