The numbers that show a year of Covid-19 in Italy

It has now been one year since parts of northern Italy declared their first coronavirus lockdowns, and the entire country has been living with the virus ever since. We look back on 12 months of the Covid-19 pandemic in Italy, in numbers.

The numbers that show a year of Covid-19 in Italy
Italy has now been living with the coronavirus for over a year. Photo: Andrea Pattaro/AFP

Health data

2.8 million: the number of cases of Covid-19 confirmed in Italy since the pandemic began. 

96,000: Italy's total Covid-19 death toll to date. 

993: the highest number of deaths in Italy in a single day, recorded on December 3rd 2020. Before then the record was 921 on March 27th.

40,896: the most new cases recorded in Italy in one day, on November 13th 2020. During the first wave, the high was 6,554 on March 21st. 

Daily new cases regularly top 10,000 now, though that is partly due to far more widespread testing.

READ ALSO: Eight things the year-long Covid crisis has taught us about Italy

Photo: AFP

4,068: the most Covid-19 patients in intensive care at any one time, on April 3rd 2020. The highest number of ICU patients during the second wave was 3,848 on November 25th.

581,000: the total number of cases reported in Lombardy, the region with the most infections, which has seen more than 28,000 deaths. 

81: the mean age of people who have died from Covid-19 in Italy. There were more than 35,500 victims in the hardest hit age group of 80-89 year olds, according to the Higher Health Institute (ISS).

2.3 million: the number of people who have recovered from Covid-19 in Italy. 

19 million: the rough number of people who have been tested for coronavirus in Italy to date. 
0.99: the average Rt (reproduction) number across Italy, according to the latest official report. Ten areas of Italy currently have an Rt number above 1, which indicates that new cases will spread rapidly.

40-50 percent: the proportion of new cases in Italy that could involve one of the variants of the Sars-Cov-2 virus detected around the world in the past two months, according to experts. 

“In regions where the variant is found to account for at least 50 percent of cases, the more contagious variant will almost completely replace the 'standard' version within a month and a half from today,” Dr Rosario Corrado Spinella of Italy's National Research Council (CNR) warned this week


2: the number of governments Italy has had since the Covid emergency began, with zero elections. While Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte steered the country through its first lockdown and saw his approval ratings soar, his coalition government collapsed when it came to planning Italy's recovery.

He was replaced last week by former chief banker Mario Draghi, who now leads a “unity” government made up of the biggest parties from left and right plus technocrats.

READ ALSO: How will Italy's Covid-19 strategy change under the new government?

21: the number of rounds of applause Prime Minister Draghi got during his first speech in parliament. The longest came when he said: “Today unity is not an option but a duty. But it is a duty guided by what I am sure unites us all: love for Italy.”

Photo: Andrew Medichini/Pool/AFP


8.9 percent: the amount by which Italy's GDP shrank last year, according to figures from the national statistics office. That makes Italy one of the worst-hit economies in the European Union.

420,000: the number of jobs lost in Italy between February and December 2020. Working women have borne the brunt, with 99,000 women losing their jobs in December alone compared to 2,000 men.

Economists say women in Italy have been disproportionately hit as they more often have insecure positions in service industries, such as tourism or catering, which have been particularly badly affected by the pandemic.

€2.8 billion: the amount that US tourists alone would usually contribute to the Italian economy in a year, most of which was lost in 2020 due to restrictions on travel from outside the EU. 

In total, international tourism in Italy is typically worth an estimated €42 billion.

€209 billion: the sum of EU emergency funds that Italy hopes to claim, with the government due to submit a spending plan to Brussels by the end of April. Draghi has indicated that his priorities are reforms to the tax and justice systems, as well as cutting bureaucratic red tape and getting pupils safely back to school.

Rules and restrictions

2: the number of Covid-19 deaths reported in Italy by the time the first local lockdowns were declared on February 22nd 2020, in ten towns in Lombardy and one in Veneto.

The first locally transmitted cases had been detected days earlier and in the days that followed, the count rapidly surged from a handful of patients to hundreds. Swathes of northern Italy would then be locked down, followed soon afterwards by the entire country.

READ ALSO: Codogno one year on: How is the first Italian town hit by coronavirus faring?

55: the number of days Italy spent in full nationwide lockdown between March 10th and May 3rd 2020. 

The rules were progressively relaxed over the spring and summer, only to start being tightened again in autumn. The government declared a further ten days of national lockdown over the Christmas, New Year and Epiphany holidays.

94 percent: how much visits to restaurants, bars, cafes and other leisure places decreased in the early weeks of the first lockdown, according to an April 2020 report by Google using data collected via its Maps app. Trips to food shops and pharmacies were down 85 percent, while visits to parks and beaches fell by 90 percent.

7.8 million: the number of people stopped by police in April 2020, when checks were at their highest. Around 256,000 people were fined that month for breaking strict lockdown rules.

For comparison, in January 2021 some 2.8 million people were checked and just under 35,000 fined, according to Interior Ministry figures.

6pm: the time at which people gathered to sing together from their windows, balconies and rooftops during the early days of lockdown.

Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP

3: the number of 'zones' in Italy now, where restrictions get tighter depending on whether each region is classed yellow, orange or red. There is technically a fourth zone, white, but no region has yet seen its infection numbers fall low enough to be declared one.

MAP: Which zone is your region in under Italy's tier system?

21: the number of factors that health authorities take into account when deciding which regions should be classed as high-risk, including Rt number, number of patients in hospital and test positivity rate. The data is reassessed weekly.

10pm: the time by when you should be home for the night under Italy's nationwide curfew. You're allowed out again from 5am. 

3: the number of legitimate reasons for leaving your region of Italy while a domestic travel ban remains in force, according to the latest version of the 'autodichiarazione' (self-certification) form you're supposed to fill in if you need to make an urgent trip. They are listed as: work; health reasons; other essential reasons.

The ban will continue until at least March 27th, the government announced this week.

€400-1,000: the sum you could be fined if you are caught breaking Italy's coronavirus rules, for example by disobeying curfew, travelling between regions without an essential reason, failing to self-isolate after returning from overseas, or not wearing a face mask in public.

1500: the toll-free number you can call in Italy for any questions related to the pandemic. The helpline, run by the Health Ministry, operates 24 hours a day.


3.6 million: the number of doses of Covid-19 vaccines that have been administered in Italy so far, immunizing some 1.3 million people.

READ ALSO: Where to register for a Covid-19 vaccine in your region of Italy

Photo: Tiziana Fabi/AFP

€0: the cost of getting a Covid-19 vaccine in Italy, which the Health Ministry has said should be free for all.

6: the number of categories into which Italy has divided its population to determine who gets vaccinated first. Older and medically vulnerable people are the top priority, while young, healthy adults not working in key sectors are the last in line.

Member comments

  1. Italy as the first country outside China to be hit so hard with COVID-19, did an amazing job under so much pressure. We were in Australia and were due to holiday there in April and May last year, so were looking very closely with how everything unfolded. It was so sad to watch and looked impossible to get on top of.

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REVEALED: These are the most polluted towns in Italy

The northern cities of Milan and Turin were named Italy's 'smog capitals' in a new pollution report on Monday which urged the government to take action over poor air quality.

REVEALED: These are the most polluted towns in Italy
Photo: Pixabay

Smog and pollution are choking Italian cities year-round and many towns are exceeding limits on fine particles and other pollution, according to another report from Italian environmental watchdog Legambiente.

The Mal’aria di città (Air pollution in the city) report for 2023, unveiled on Monday, was the latest to warn about the risks to health posed by pollution in many parts of the country.

It found that 25 of 95 cities monitored had violated clean air ordinances by exceeding daily fine particle (PM10) emission limits, which are currently set at no more than 35 days a year with a daily average of over 50 micrograms per cubic metre.

Turin was ranked as the worst offender, exceeding this level on 90 days, closely followed by Milan (84), Asti (79), Modena (75), and Padua and Venice at 70.

These were followed by Cremona, Treviso, Mantua and Rovigo, all of which exceeded limits to a lesser degree.

All of the most polluted cities were in the northern Italian regions of Piedmont, Lombardy, Emilia Romagna and Veneto, with most within the north-western ‘industrial triangle’.

Some southern cities featured nearer the bottom of the ranking, with Andria (Puglia) and Ragusa (Sicily) exceeding limits on several days, as well as Rome, which overshot the permitted level for one day.

(Photo by Andreas SOLARO / AFP)

The average annual rate of PM10 emissions nationwide dropped slightly, by two percent year-on-year, the report found.

“This, however, is not enough to guarantee the health of citizens,” said Stefano Ciafani, president of Legambiente.

He pointed out that the situation looked even worse if air quality in Italian cities were measured against tighter limits under the new European Directive on air quality, in force from 2030, which lowers the PM10 threshold from 35 to 20 micrograms per cubic meter of air.

“Only 23 out of 96 cities (24 percent) would be under these limits,” Ciafani said, while 84 percent would exceed the threshold for PM2.5 and 61 percent for nitrogen dioxide (NO2).

Italy has repeatedly been reprimanded by the European Union over air quality, and has “persistently and systematically” breached EU recommended limits, the European Court of Justice ruled in 2020.

The north of Italy has long been ranked among the worst areas in Europe for polluted air according to data from the European Environment Agency.

“Air pollution is not only an environmental problem, but also a health problem of great importance,” said Ciafani. “In Europe, it’s the main cause of premature death due to environmental factors.”

“Italy has more than 52,000 deaths per year caused by PM2.5 emissions, equal to a fifth of those recorded throughout the continent,” he said.

The main causes of air pollution in Italian cities are reported to be industry, inefficient domestic heating systems, agricultural practices and, most of all, heavy traffic.

In Italy, cars continue to be by far the most-used means of transport. 65.3 percent of journeys overall are made by car, Legambiante wrote, with the emissions from some 38 million cars choking Italy’s towns and cities.

(Photo by Miguel MEDINA / AFP)

Legambiente said “drastic” measures were required to tackle the problem, including funds for more efficient heating systems in homes and public buildings and a major increase in public transport provision.

The group said Italy must “quadruple the availability of public transit, promoting integrated season tickets as done by Germany in 2022”, triple the number of electric buses, create zero-emission zones in town centres, and “create another 16,000 kilometres of cycle paths”.

It also praised local authorities choosing to bring in 30 km/h speed limits in city centres. Councils in Bologna, Turin, Milan and Cesena have all said they plan to implement these limits, following the lead of European cities including Paris and Madrid, despite fierce criticism from Italian transport minister Matteo Salvini.

Legambiente published a petition urging the government to make clean air and more livable cities a priority, saying Italy should follow Paris in attempting to create ’15-minute cities’, in which everyone lives within a quarter of an hour’s walk of vital amenities such as shops and schools and possibly also workplaces.