Italy has recorded 919 new coronavirus deaths, its highest daily figure in the outbreak so far. It means 9,134 people have now died from the virus in the country.
Earlier World Health Organization chief Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said a “chronic global shortage” of protective equipment was one of the “most urgent threats” to the ability to save lives.
Italy is the worst-affected in Europe. Almost everything has been closed and people told to stay at home.
Earlier on Friday, authorities warned that restrictions were likely to be extended beyond 3 April.’
Every day is a struggle for Italians to take in the scale of this tragedy. It’s as if the country is losing the population of a village day after day. There have been 541 deaths just in the region of Lombardy in the past 24 hours. It’s staggering.
Although it is hard to see light at the end of the tunnel, there are grounds for it: the new infection rate is declining and the curve is flattening. But more than two weeks into the nationwide lockdown, progress is slow and uneven. And the awful news keeps coming: 46 doctors have now died since the outbreak began.
What’s clear is that the containment measures will have to be extended – possibly for months, says the national health council. That will cause anxiety not just here, where the lockdown is crushing the Italian economy, but around the world, where Italy’s restrictions are a model for many other countries.
Italy is a week or two ahead of most of Europe – both in the progression of the virus and in the lockdown. So what happens here will be closely watched elsewhere.