Italy approves 25 billion euros in coronavirus state aid

Rome, Mar 16 (EFE).- Italy’s coronavirus death toll has reached 2,158 on Monday having jumped by 349 in the last 24 hours, according to the latest figures reported by the Civil Protection chief.

The total number of patients in Italy, the second global hotspot after China, is 23,073, an increase of 2,470 compared to Sunday, Angelo Borrelli told reporters.

He added 414 had recovered adding to the existing 2,749 persons who had overcome the disease.

The total number of people who have become infected since the outbreak at the end of February is 27,980, which includes the sick, deceased and recovered.

So far 138,000 tests have been carried out across the population.

Borrelli said that, although data for the Apulia region and the province of Trento is lacking, one can “speak of a downward trend” in infections.

Franco Locatelli, president of the Higher Health Council, said that Monday’s data reflects the contagion situation of 12-14 days ago, so “we will have to wait to see a reduction in those infected and a marked reduction in the clinical impact of patients admitted to ICUs.”

“It will still take several days but we strongly believe in the effectiveness of isolation measures,” he added.

Of the 23,073 infections, 11,025 are hospitalized and 1,851 are in intensive care units.

The situation is still very serious in the northern region of Lombardy, where there are 14,649 cases and 1,420 deaths. Although the number of infections has declined, there are 823 people in intensive care, 66 more than on Sunday.

The Lombardy association of anaesthetists wrote to the President of the Italian Republic Sergio Mattarella to warn authorities that “protective equipment” for personnel is running out.

They also denounced the shortage of beds in resuscitation units and a lack of anesthesiologists available saying this may decrease “the effectiveness of their efforts to try to save as many lives as possible.”

In Lombardy, a new hospital will open with 500 beds in intensive care in the Fiera area of ??Milan, thanks to private funding.

To tackle the shortage of masks, national factories will amp up production backed by a decree approved Monday, Borelli said.

Italy’s government on Monday approved a 25 billion-euro ($27.7bn) tranche of aid to soften the economic blow of the coronavirus outbreak in the country, the worst-hit after China with over 20,000 registered infections and 1,809 deaths.

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said the money would buffer the Italian economy, the healthcare system, businesses and families affected by Covid-19. He added that 350 billion euros would be freed up in credit.

The 25 billion euro relief fund is set to deepen the country’s deficit to 3.3 percent of GDP in 2020, a marked difference from the projected 2.2 percent calculated last year, which is a tricky issue for a country whose spending is closely monitored by the European Union.

But the PM insisted he would do everything it takes to mitigate the socio-economic impact the virus has on the nation, which remains on full lockdown. He said that once the health emergency is over, the country would need an injection of investment.

“It’s a powerful decree, decisive in both figures and actions. We know that it will not stop here but we want to share the message that the government will respond today and it will respond tomorrow,” he said.

The Italian economy minister, Roberto Gualtieri, said 3.5 billion euros in the first tranche would be destined to the national health system and the Civil Protection.

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