Italy daily coronavirus deaths jump to 731 – the most since April

Italy sees daily coronavirus deaths jump to 731 – the most since early April – as warzone doctor is called in to sort growing health crisis in Calabria region

  • Italy registered 32,191 infections on Tuesday, a daily rise of nearly 5,000
  • Its 731 deaths are the highest since the country was in full lockdown on April 3
  • Gino Strada, who aids civilian victims of war, has been drafted into Calabria

Italy has registered its highest daily coronavirus deaths since the peak of the pandemic in April.

The Covid hotspot has seen its infections jump to 32,191 daily coronavirus infections, up from 27,354 on Monday, as the pandemic shows little sign of abating across Europe. 

Italy’s health ministry reported 731 COVID 19-related deaths on Tuesday, up from 504 the previous day.

It is the highest daily toll since April 3, when the country was in full national lockdown. 

There were 208,458 coronavirus swabs carried out in the past day, the ministry said, against a previous 152,663. 

Italy was the first Western country to be hit by the virus and has seen 46,464 fatalities since its outbreak emerged in February, the second highest toll in Europe after Britain’s, and 1.24million cases.

The northern region of Lombardy, centred on Italy’s financial capital Milan, remained the hardest hit area on Tuesday, reporting 8,448 new cases, up from 4,128 on Monday.

It comes as the Italian government called upon one of the country’s leading emergency healthcare experts, who usually operates in warzones, to help sort out a growing coronavirus health crisis in the southern region of Calabria.

Gino Strada, who founded the Emergency NGO to aid civilian victims of war, has agreed to work alongside a new health commissioner in the toe of Italy, which is struggling to cope with a wave of coronavirus infections, the government said.

Italy has registered 32,191 daily coronavirus infections, up from 27,354 on Monday, as the pandemic shows little sign of abating across Europe

University students wear masks of politician’s faces as they sit during a demonstration against the government measures, including the closure of classrooms

A surgeon himself, Strada has set up hospitals in conflict zones around the world, including Sudan and Afghanistan. He made no immediate comment on Monday about the possible new role.

Healthcare in Calabria, one of Italy’s poorest areas, has come sharply into focus this month, with two health chiefs being forced to quit in swift succession because of doubts over their ability to handle the coronavirus crisis.

Saverio Cotticelli resigned from the post on Nov. 7 after acknowledging in a television interview that the region did not have an emergency COVID-19 plan in place. He claimed it was not his responsibility, only to discover that it was.

Gino Strada, who founded the Emergency NGO to aid civilian victims of war, has agreed to work in Calabria to help with the pandemic

With the plan already well overdue, the government immediately named a new health csar, Giuseppe Zuccatelli. But his appointment was immediately engulfed in controversy when video emerged of him ridiculing the idea that wearing masks helped contain the spread of the coronavirus.

He was also filmed saying people could only catch the virus if they kissed ‘with their tongues’ for 15 minutes.

‘The (health) minister called me and didn’t need to explain anything. He asked me to resign and I did,’ Zuccatelli told reporters on Monday.

Political opponents have widely criticised the government’s handling of the situation, asking why it had not realised sooner that the region had not produced an emergency plan and why it had not done more thorough checks before appointing Zuccatelli.

Piazza della Signoria in Florence lies empty on Tuesday with many regions declared red zones amid rising cases

‘The government is incompetent and dangerous,’ far-right leader Matteo Salvini said in a statement on Calabria last week.

The region is currently in partial lockdown and designated as a high-risk COVID-19 ‘red zone’.

Italy’s regions normally have control over their own health services, but Rome took charge of the heavily indebted system in Calabria in 2010, amid accusations the local mafia, the ‘Ndrangheta, had infiltrated it and was milking it of cash.

The government said the new health chief would be Eugenio Gaudio, the outgoing head of Rome’s Sapienza University, with Strada named as a special envoy to focus on the COVID-19 crisis.

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