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COVID-19: Study suggests Italy death toll much higher

Independent study by local daily claims number of victims in worst-hit area of Bergamo double official tally

Giada Zampano   | 02.04.2020
COVID-19: Study suggests Italy death toll much higher

ROME 

An independent study published in an Italian newspaper has suggested that the death toll from the coronavirus pandemic in the country's worst-hit region might be higher than what the official data showed.

According to the study by data analysis firm InTwig, whose findings were published in local daily L’Eco di Bergamo, about 4,500 people have died from COVID-19 in March around the northern city of Bergamo. That is more than double the official data of 2,060 deaths provided by Italy’s Civil Protection Department.

The northern Lombardy region -- where Bergamo is located -- is the epicenter of the Italian outbreak and more than half of the deaths -- over 7,500 -- have been recorded in this region.

The death toll in Lombardy continues to grow on a daily basis, despite a slowdown in new cases and death rates recently registered at a national level.

Italian experts have often stressed that most of the elderly victims -- worst-affected by the virus -- died at home or in elderly residencies, and were not even tested for coronavirus, making the official tally likely incomplete.

The Civil Protection on Wednesday reported another 727 fatalities over the last 24 hours -- down from 837 a day before -- bringing the total deaths to 13,155, still the highest number globally.

New contagions, however, grew at a much slower pace than in the last few weeks, supporting scientists' expectations that the peak is getting closer.

To respond to the massive emergency, the Italian government has extended an almost-total lockdown -- which halted most of the production in Italy -- for another two weeks, until at least April 13.

In an evening press conference on Wednesday, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte warned that "if we stopped respecting the rules … and relax these rules, all the sacrifices would be in vain."

Conte added that the government would start softening the strict measures only when scientists give the go ahead for such a move, but stopped short of providing a specific date.

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