Italy registers record 969 coronavirus deaths in one day

(UPDATE 1: Re-tops with new angle, adds detail throughout)

Rome, Mar 27 (efe-epa).- Italian authorities on Friday said 969 coronavirus patients had died in the last 24 hours, the highest daily death toll since the global Covid-19 pandemic began.

Already the deadliest global hotspot, the new figures released by the country’s Civil Protection agency bring the overall number of fatalities from the virus to 9,134, almost triple the number registered in China, where the outbreak began late last year.

The number of confirmed cases since the Covid-19 outbreak began in Italy in late February stands at 86,489, of which roughly 66,414 are still active with 4,401 of those being detected in the last 24 hours.

Some 10,950 people have recovered from Covid-19.

At a domestic level, Lombardy, home to Milan, continues to take the brunt of the outbreak.

Of all the deaths in the last 24 hours, more than half – 541 – were registered in the northern region, bringing its total to 5,402 since the beginning of the outbreak.

Similarly, Lombardy accounts for 1,300 of the 3,732 ICU patients in all of Italy.

As hospitals in Lombardy struggle to cope with the number of patients, 75 ICU cases were transferred to other regions, Domenico Arcuri, the Italian government’s extraordinary commissioner for the coronavirus crisis, told a press conference.

The commissioner described the situation as a global crisis in which countries must “collaborate selflessly.”

He said the government was working to repurpose some companies to boost the domestic production of much-needed medical material such as masks.

“Our efforts are 360 degrees: we continue to collaborate with many countries, we acquired medical devices from France, Germany, China, Russia, negotiations are taking place with other countries, often far away, where these products are manufactured,” Arcuri said

“For us, it is a time for cooperation, not division. Wherever solutions are found for our citizens, it is right to go there,” he added.

He said that starting Saturday, the Italian Defense Ministry would provide personnel and transport such as helicopters to distribute the material where it is most needed.

Arcuri added that Italy’s ICU capacity had been boosted by 68 percent since the start of the crisis, from 5,343 to 9,000.

Earlier in the day, authorities said the rate of coronavirus infections in Italy has slowed but the peak of the outbreak in the country has not yet been reached.

Silvio Brusaferro, president of Italy’s Higher Health Institute (Istituto Superiore di Sanità, or ISS), said he expected infections to peak in the “next few days”.

“We have not reached the peak nor have we exceeded it,” he said at a press conference.

“We should all be aware of this, we have signs of slowing down that make us predict that we are close to it, but there is no data that allows us to confirm it.”

He added: “Clearly the signals we have are positive and the measures adopted are having their effect and slowing growth.

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