In the biggest increase in a single day since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Italy reported 627 deaths from the coronavirus on March 20.
The coronavirus death toll in Italy is now at 4,032 with a total of 47,021 cases reported in the country, the highest number of deaths caused by COVID-19 in the world.
Out of the reported cases, 5,129 people have recovered from the disease.
Italy’s total coronavirus death count surpassed China’s, which sits at 3,255, a day earlier.
Army to patrol streets in Italy
The Italian army will be patrolling the streets to enforce the nationwide lockdown order, with up to 20,000 soldiers tasked with helping control the pandemic.
On March 20, military forces began monitoring public spaces in the northern city of Milan, Italy’s financial center and one of the areas hit hardest by the virus.
Lombardy, the region where Milan is located, decided to tighten its lockdown order after Chinese experts informed the country that it wasn’t strict enough.
Lombardy’s Governor, Attilio Fontana, reassured those concerned that the use of the military would breach citizen’s democratic rights, declaring that he had obtained approval from Italian President Sergio Mattarella before enforcing the new rule.
“I reiterated in a phone conversation with the president the need to use the army to support police forces and reinforce the network of controls aimed at applying the rules. I can say that Mattarella has shared my request, which is aimed at guaranteeing the collective good,” Fontana said.
Bergamo hospitals run out of resources
Bergamo, another city in the region, is currently facing a shortage of resources to handle the influx of new patients and have been forced to transfer patients to other parts of the country.
Medical staff have reportedly had to deal with a lack of equipment and supplies as well as space limitations as area hospitals are running at capacity.
“Bergamo is sending ICU patients to other regions because we ran out (of space),” Dr. Stefano Magnone told CNN, adding, “Around 50 patients were sent out of Lombardy to other regions, mainly in the south.”
According to Magnone, less than half of patients sent outside the city were COVID-19 patients.
Bergamo’s funeral firms overwhelmed
Bergamo’s crematoriums and funeral firms are reportedly overwhelmed with the spike in deaths.
“If this keeps going for six months, we will have to prepare the plot for mass graves,” said Carlo Rossini, a worker at the Funeral Honours Agency La Bergamasca.
Have a tip or story? Get in touch with our reporters here!