The death toll for people who had coronavirus in Italy has passed China’s, it has been confirmed today.
Italy’s health ministry has now confirmed the country has suffered 3,405 deaths, while China’s confirmed total stands at 3,249, according to Johns Hopkins University in the US.
That compares to Italy’s 33,000-plus confirmed cases, while China which has officially reported more than 81,000.
The stark rise comes as Italy’s prime minister said he was extending the nationwide lockdown, designed to stop the outbreak, past its original end date of 3 April.
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“At the moment it is not sensible to say anything else,” Giuseppe Conte told Il Corriere della Sera. “But it is obvious the measures we have taken - whether that be shutting down much of the country’s individual and business activities, or our actions regarding schools – can only be extended.”
He added that the restrictive measures had worked, in his view, and that life could not return to how it was before straight away.
Italy has been averaging 350 deaths a day since Sunday, with both the country’s health authorities and the UN citing a number of reasons for the high toll.
It has a large elderly population, who are more susceptible to developing serious problems from the virus’s infection.
Only Japan has an older population. There, some 87% of the people who died after testing positive for coronavirus were older than 70.
Nearly all every person who died had one or more underlying medical conditions, such as diabetes, cancer, hypertension or renal insufficiency.