Coronavirus: Death toll in Italy passes 1,000

12 March 2020, 19:02

Italy Faces The Coronavirus
Italy Faces The Coronavirus. Picture: Getty

By Tobi Akingbade

Italy's coronavirus death toll has topped 1,000 as Europe becomes new centre of the world's pandemic, according to the latest figures.

The number of deaths jumped by 189 to 1,016, i the last day alone, indicating a rise of 23%, the Civil Protection Agency said on Thursday.

The total number of cases the European nation rose to 15,113 from a previous 12,462, an increase of 21.7%.

That marked the biggest daily rise in absolute terms since the contagion first came to light on February 21, according to Reuters.

The agency said that, of those originally infected, 1,258 had fully recovered compared to 1,045 the day before.

Some 1,153 people were in intensive care against a previous 1,028.

The news came as Boris Johnson announced that the UK has moved into the "delay" stage of its response to the coronavirus pandemic after it proved impossible to contain the spread of the disease.

Boris Johnson Holds Press Conference To Update On Coronavirus
Boris Johnson Holds Press Conference To Update On Coronavirus. Picture: Getty

In a statement after chairing emergency talks on Thursday, Boris Johnson introduced a series of measures to "minimise suffering" from the escalation of the outbreak.

These include:

- Stay at home for seven days if you have any symptoms consistent with coronavirus

- Over 70s with serious medical conditions should not go on cruise trips

- Children should not go on international school trips

The prime minister also confirmed schools would remain open and large scale events would go ahead.

Referring specifically to school closures, he said: "The scientific advice is that this could do more harm than good at this time but of course we are keeping this under review."

Chief medical officer Chris Whitty later expanded on the this decision which he said was due to research indicating that children are less affected by the virus.

But, the prime minister added: "Many more families are going to lose loved ones before their time" as the UK battles with "the worst public health crisis of a generation."

He then rejected any comparisons made between COVID-19 and the seasonal flu, saying the former was "more dangerous" due to a lack of immunity.

The measures are likely to expand in the next few weeks, Mr Johnson added, which could include isolating entire households should one person exhibit symptoms.

The UK has so far recorded 590 cases of the virus with ten deaths, however the number of cases not yet identified is expected to be much higher.

Sir Patrick Vallance, the chief scientific adviser, said the UK could have between 5,000 and 10,000 infected at this current time.

He said this estimation was based on the calculation of the disease trajectory that showed the UK is four weeks behind Italy and other countries in Europe.

"This is still a relatively small number," he added.

Globally, more than 127,000 people have tested positive, while more than 4,700 people have lost their lives.

The majority of cases and deaths have been recorded in China, with Italy and Iran being the second and third worst-hit countries respectively.