Italy reports record-high single-day death toll from coronavirus, one day after previous record-high

By Audrey McNamara

/ CBS News

Italy has deadliest day since outbreak began

Italy reached a grim milestone on Friday, with 627 people dying from the coronavirus in the country, making it not only the deadliest day, but the deadliest day worldwide since the outbreak began. That record was broken the very next day, as Italy reported an additional 793 deaths on Saturday.

According to Johns Hopkins University, 4,825 people have died of the coronavirus in Italy, as of Saturday. More than 60% of Italy's latest deaths occurred in the northern region of Lombardy, The Associated Press reports.

Italy's total now surpasses deaths in China, where the outbreak began. China has not reported a new case of the coronavirus in over three days. Italy's grim surge has made it the new global epicenter of the pandemic.

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CBS News London correspondent Ian Lee reports that Italy's medical system is on life support. The country's doctors and nurses are struggling to keep up with cases, now soaring past 50,000.

Severe cases of coronavirus present like pneumonia, inflaming the lungs and filling them with fluid. To help these patients, hospitals need ventilators. Intensive care units in Italy, however, are running low on the life saving devices, as well as beds and personal protective equipment, PPE, for healthcare workers.

The increases in cases in Italy come nearly two weeks after its government enacted a national lockdown. Similar measures are now being taken in the United States and United Kingdom.

This week, California became the first U.S. state to issue a state-wide stay-at-home order, that instructs people to stay inside as much as possible and orders all non-essential businesses to close. The governors of Illinois and New York quickly followed with similar orders that go into effect on Saturday and Sunday, respectively.

In an interview with "CBS Evening News" anchor Norah O'Donnell on Friday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country's top infectious disease doctor and a member of the White House coronavirus task force, said it's "very difficult to predict" when those state's orders will end.

"I think you have to monitor it really on a daily basis to see the kind of impact it's having," Fauci said. "About 90% of the new infections are coming from (New York and California). So they're having a particularly difficult problem."

Europe is also struggling to contain the coronavirus, and several countries — in addition to Italy — have ordered non-essential businesses to close. The United Kingdom reported its first death from the coronavirus two weeks ago, but since then its death toll has risen faster than Italy over the same period.

The spike in deaths has led some to fear that Italy's struggles could hit the U.K. next. To handle the oncoming wave of cases, about 65,000 retired nurses and doctors have been asked to report for duty to help, and the country's famous pubs have all been ordered to close.

First published on March 21, 2020 / 5:21 PM

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