Coronavirus epidemic: Italy overtakes China with 3,405 deaths; President Trump blames Beijing for outbreak

New Delhi: Italy on Thursday (March 19) became the worst COVID-19 epidemic-hit country with its death toll overtaking that of China. Italy confirmed 427 more deaths in the past 24 hours, raising its toll to 3,405, said an AFP report.  China has officially reported 3,245 deaths since registering the first case at the end of last year. Infections outside China have been reported by 175 countries. 

Coronavirus-ravaged Italy, which recorded 300 plus deaths for three days running from Sunday, had Wednesday hit a new high of 475 deaths in the last 24 hours.

According to reports, army trucks delivered new coffins on Thursday to a cemetery in the northern Italian city of Bergamo that suddenly finds itself at the global heart of the unfolding disaster.

Burials were taking place 30 minutes apart to avoid contagion through crowds. Masked undertakers wrapped from head to toe in white suits carted the coffins on gurneys to speed up the process.

Italy is reportedly imposing 206 euro ($222) fines for anyone found wandering the streets without a valid excuse such as grocery shopping or getting to and from work. Police in Rome repeat periodic instructions out of megaphones for everyone to “stay home and maintain distance” from each other.

Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump on Thursday said that the world is “paying a big price” for China’s lack of transparency on the outbreak of the new coronavirus there several months ago.

“It would have been much better if we had known about this a number of months earlier,” Trump told reporters at a White House briefing on the pandemic, according to an AFP report.

President Donald Trump said, “It could have been contained to that one area of China where it started. And certainly, the world is paying a big price for what they did.” 

Notably, over 227,700 people have been infected by the novel coronavirus across the world and 9,263 have died.