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Coronavirus cases in Italy continue to rise each day, chart shows

Aylin Woodward , Business Insider US
 Mar 21, 2020, 12:15 PM
Medical personnel transport a COVID-19 patient to an ICU tent in Cremona, near Milan, Italy, March 20, 2020.
Emanuele Cremaschi/Getty Images
  • Italy has reported more than 47 000 coronavirus cases and at least 4 000 deaths since its first case was confirmed on January 31.
  • The daily number of new confirmed cases in Italy continues to rise, with nearly 6 000 new cases reported on Friday.
  • Italy also reported the highest single-day death toll for any country since the coronavirus outbreak started on Friday: 627 deaths.
  • Italy's epidemic curve looks like a steep staircase - an indication its outbreak is far from contained.
  • For more stories go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.

Italy has the highest number of deaths from the new coronavirus and the second-highest total of cases worldwide.

On Friday, Italy reported 5,994 new coronavirus cases, and 627 new deaths - the greatest single-day death-toll jump of any country since the start of the coronavirus pandemic in December. (Even at the height of China's outbreak, its highest single-day death toll was 150, on February 23.)

Since Italy reported its first coronavirus case January 31, the country has confirmed more than 47 000 cases and 4 000 deaths. A look at the number of new cases that Italy has reported each day suggests the country is far from controlling its outbreak - its epidemic curve still looks like a steep staircase.

Italy's coronavirus epidemic has escalated rapidly

In the weeks after Italy confirmed its first case, the number of cases reported there remained low. Then, between February 23 and March 1, the number of Italians infected with coronavirus increased by a factor of 10.

Since the beginning of March, the number of cases has spiked from about 1 700 to more than 47 000. During that same time period, the number of deaths increased 100-fold - from 34 to more than 3,400.

Italy's Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte put the nation's 60 million residents on lockdown on March 10. Only grocery stores and pharmacies are allowed to operate. The quarantine was supposed to end on April 3, but Conte told Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera that the lockdown will be prolonged.

Meanwhile, Italy's healthcare system is crumbling under the strain of a never-ending stream of patients, a lack of beds, and shortages of medical resources. Doctors are reportedly prioritising younger, healthier patients who have a higher survival rate.

The US' epidemic curve mirrors that of Italy

The US has the world's fifth-highest total of coronavirus cases. Its outbreak also appears to be getting worse over time - each day brings a higher number of new confirmed cases than the one before, just like Italy.

For a month or so following the first confirmed US case on January 20, the number of reported cases remained low: less than 15 cases (this number is dependent on testing, however, which was initially delayed and limited in the US). Then on February 28 - the day after the US' first case of community spread was reported - the number of cases started to rise each day, and that trend hasn't stopped.

A healthcare worker prepares to transport a patient on a stretcher into an ambulance at Life Care Center of Kirkland, Washington on February 29, 2020.
David Ryder/Getty Images
Between March 10 and March 13, the number of new US cases tripled - in part due to the increase of coronavirus testing in state and private labs around the country. Between March 16 and March 20, the number of cases tripled again, from about 5 600 to more than 16 600.

Cases have now been reported in all 50 states and Washington, DC. The illness has also spread to Guam, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands, and at least 225 Americans have died.

Rhea Mahbubani contributed reporting to this story.

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