Italy sees massive jump of more than 3,500 new coronavirus cases, Spain’s death toll doubles
More than 3,500 people tested positive for coronavirus in Italy in a 24-hour period, officials announced Sunday, setting a new record.
At least 24,747 people in Italy have now been diagnosed with the fast-spreading and potentially deadly virus.
Italy also reported 368 more deaths in the same 24-hour period, including 252 in the hard-hit Lombardy region. The death toll now stands at more than 1,800.
“The numbers have continued to grow," Lombardy Gov. Attilio Fontana told SkyTG24 television. “We’re close to the moment where we will have no more intensive-care beds.”
The country has virtually been locked down since last week as the coronavirus has devastated the population. All 60 million residents have been told to stay home and almost all businesses have been closed. All schools are also shut down.
Pope Francis made two pilgrimages Sunday to sites in Rome, the Virgin Mary, Salus Populi Romani, and the church of San Marcello on the Corso, to pray for "the end of the pandemic that affects Italy and the world, imploring for the healing of the many sick, and remembering the many victims,” the Vatican said.
Meanwhile, Spain, which has followed similar lockdown policies, saw a dramatic spike as well as the death toll more than doubled Sunday, jumping from 136 to 288.
The Health Ministry announced 7,753 positive cases of coronavirus Sunday, up from 5,700 on Saturday. About half of the diagnoses are concentrated in the capital of Madrid.
Among those infected is the wife of Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, his office announced late Saturday. Two of his cabinet members, the minister of equality and the minister of regional affairs, have also tested positive.
“We will [eventually] return to the routine of our jobs and again visit our friends and loved ones,” Sanchez said in a nationally televised address Saturday.
“Until that time comes, let’s not waste energies that are essential now. Let’s not lose our way.”
Spain’s lockdown includes the shuttering of all bars, restaurants and shops that sell anything but food and other necessities. Businesses like movie theaters, pools and athletic facilities are also closed.
Domestic transit, including trains, planes and boats, on Monday will be cut by at least half, but international flights and metro buses will not be affected.
Spain’s Interior Ministry has put the armed forces on standby to enforce the lockdown if necessary.
On Friday, the World Health Organization called Europe the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic.
“More cases are now being reported [in Europe] every day than were reported in China at the height of its epidemic,” WHO Director General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.
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