Italy coronavirus deaths surge by 793 in a day, total death toll climbs to 4,825

The death toll from an outbreak of coronavirus in Italy has leapt by 793 to 4,825, officials said on Saturday, an increase of 19.6% — by far the largest daily rise in absolute terms since the contagion emerged a month ago.

On Thursday, Italy overtook China as the country to register most deaths from the highly contagious virus. The total number of cases in Italy rose to 53,578 from a previous 47,021, an increase of 13.9%, the Civil Protection Agency said.

The hardest-hit northern region of Lombardy remains in a critical situation, with 3,095 deaths and 25,515 cases.

Of those originally infected nationwide, 6,072 had fully recovered on Saturday compared to 5,129 the day before. There were 2,857 people in intensive care against a previous 2,655.

“NO EU MEMBER CAN FACE THIS THREAT ALONE”

“What we all understand is that no member state can face this threat alone. The virus has no borders and the European Union is stronger when we show full solidarity,” EU Commission head Ursula von der Leyen told Italy`s Corriere della Sera newspaper.

Late on Friday the EU Commission moved to formalise a deal reached by EU finance ministers on March 5 to suspend EU budget rules that limit borrowing, giving Italy and other governments a free hand to fight the disease.

Italy`s failure to reduce its huge debt of 134% of gross domestic product would normally have drawn a rebuke from the EU executive, but von der Leyen said there were now other priorities.

“The Italian government will be able to put as much money into the economy as needed. Normal budget rules, debt rules for example, will not be applied at this stage,” she said.

Brussels is expected next week to unveil a plan for using the euro zone`s bailout fund, known as the European Stability Mechanism (ESM), which could unlock unlimited sovereign bond purchases by the European Central Bank.

“This work is ongoing,” Commission Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis said in an interview with Reuters.

The lockdown measures imposed in Italy and emulated by several other countries in Europe are likely to trigger a recession and heavy job losses. Dombrovskis said the Commission is accelerating work on an EU-wide scheme to help the unemployed, scheduled for presentation in the fourth quarter.