Italy reports 41 new coronavirus deaths, bringing toll to 148

Italy unveils 7.5 billion euro coronavirus rescue plan

On Thursday, Italy reported 41 new deaths from the novel coronavirus, its highest single-day total to date, bringing the number of fatalities in Europe's most affected country to 148.

Also, the number of cases also jumped by a new high of 769, reaching 3,858 over the past two weeks.

The latest figures mean Italy has the second most deaths behind China, where the new virus was first detected at the end of last year.

Italy also recorded 414 recovered patients.

"The percentage of those who have recovered is 10.7 percent," said civil protection chief Angelo Borrelli. While Italy's fatality rate was around 3.8 percent if only the confirmed cases are taken into account. There may be an unknown number of undetected cases.

According to statistics website Worldometers, Italy is now seeing the biggest daily increase in both cases and deaths of anywhere in the world.

All of Italy's 20 regions have now been affected, with the data showing the virus had reached the Aosta Valley on the French border.

The number of COVID-19 patients receiving intensive care also rose to 351 from 295 on Wednesday. Around 1,100 of those infected were in isolation at home while around 1,700 were in hospital.

The government has unveiled a series of unprecedented measures aimed at stemming the virus' accelerating spread.

Shortly after announcing the current figures, Italian government ministers on Thursday unveiled a €7.5 billion ($8.4-billion) economic rescue plan to deal with the impact of the new coronavirus.

The stimulus package will be used primarily to "increase the resources intended for the health services, civil protection and law enforcement," Italian Finance Minister Roberto Gualtieri said.

Italy closed down all schools and universities on Wednesday and decreed that all sports events would take place behind closed doors in a bid to halt the spread of the virus.

"We are focused on taking all measures for direct containment or delaying the spread of the virus," said Prime Minister Guiseppe Conte on Wednesday.

"The health system risks going into overload and we will have a problem with intensive care if an exponential crisis continues."

The money will also help "support incomes (of families) and "support measures for the businesses and sectors ... impacted by the containment measures," Gualtieri said.

The stimulus will force the government to raise its 2020 deficit by 0.3 percent of gross domestic product.

Rome has already informed the European Commission in Brussels about the
extra deficit spending.

Italian officials have said they expect Brussels to approve the move, which it must under the 27-nation EU bloc's strict budget rules for member states.

According to the WHO, around 80 percent of people who contract the new coronavirus recover without needing special treatment.

Around one out of every six people who gets COVID-19 becomes seriously ill and develops difficulty breathing.

Some 3.4 percent of cases are fatal, according to the latest WHO figures.

Older people and those with underlying medical problems like high blood pressure, heart problems or diabetes, are more likely to develop serious illness.

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