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Italy reports jump in cases to more than 21,000

Italy reports jump in cases-AP

Rome, Mar 14: Italy has reported its biggest day-to-day jump in number of infected cases of COVID-19.

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National health authorities told reporters on Saturday that health officials recorded 3,497 new cases in 24 hours. That’s roughly a 20 per cent increase in cases from the day before.

A little more than half of those new cases occurred in Lombardy, the populous northern region which has been hardest hit in Europe’s worst outbreak. Italy’s total cases now tally 21,157.

The death toll rose by 175. A day earlier, the same authorities had predicted glumly that Italy would still see a jump in cases despite a national lockdown that began on March 9, barely two days after severe restrictions on personal movement in the north.

They cited irresponsible behavior by many citizens, who despite the earlier warnings not to gather in large numbers, headed to beaches or ski resorts, and hung out together in town squares, especially after the closure of schools.

Italian doctors in at least two hospitals treating COVID-19 cases have started using a drug normally prescribed for people with chronic inflammatory auto-immune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis.

Paolo Ascierto, director of the immunology clinic at the Pascale Institute in Naples, told Italian state TV on Saturday that of the first six ICU patients treated with the drug, three showed significant improvement of their lung inflammation judging by CT scans. One of the six died shortly after the drug was administered.

Ascierto stressed that the drug fights the lung inflammation from pneumonia in coronavirus patients but doesn’t act on the virus itself. Italy’s government pharmaceutical regulator, AIFA, is allowing the drug to be used for compassionate purposes, since it is only officially approved in the country for use in auto-immune diseases.

AP

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