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Italy coronavirus death toll tops 230, cases near 6,000

Italy coronavirus death toll tops 230, cases near 6,000

Italy has closed all schools and universities until March 15 to help combat the spread of the virus AFP/Piero CRUCIATTI

ROME: Italy's death toll from the novel coronavirus rose by 36 to 233 on Saturday (Mar 7) while the number of infections shot up by a single-day record of 1,247 to hit 5,883.

Italy has recorded the most deaths of any country outside China and the third-most COVID-19 infections after China and South Korea.

Official figures showed the number of people receiving intensive care in hospitals jumped to 567 from 462 on Friday.

Civil Protection Agency head Angelo Borrelli said that the government will approve a decree later on Saturday authorising more measures try to contain the virus, following the steps taken this week including the closure of schools, cinemas and many public events.

He did not give details of the additional measures.

Of those originally infected, 589 have fully recovered.

The Italian government has been watching closely to see if cases are spreading from the richer north to the poorer south, which has fewer medical resources.

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READ: Italy set to lock down Lombardy after coronavirus jump

All 22 Italian regions have now registered cases and one new death was reported Friday in the Lazio region that includes Rome and its outskirts.

Data showed that the northern regions of Lombardia, Emilia Romagna and Veneto were the hardest hit, representing 85 per cent of national cases overall and 92 per cent of recorded deaths.

"We will win this battle if our citizens adopt a responsible attitude and change their way of living," Borrelli said.

On Friday, the government approved a plan to employ up to 20,000 new doctors and nurses to respond to the emergency.

The southeastern region of Puglia around the city of Bari recorded its second death on Saturday.

READ: 'This is not a drill': WHO urges world to take COVID-19 more seriously

Italy's civil protection service also revealed that the northern Lombardy region around Milan that has seen well over half of all infections had started "experiencing difficulties with the (number of) beds available in hospitals".

"We have beds available in other regions to help Lombardy," Berrelli told reporters.

National Health Institute chief Silvio Brusaferro said the average age of patients who have died was over 81. They were prevalently male and more than 80 per cent had more than two underlying health conditions.

The outbreak has killed more than 3,400 people worldwide and spread across more than 90 nations outside China.

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Source: AGENCIES/nh

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