People participate in a flash mob to cheer up the city in Milan, Italy, on March 14, 2020. The number of people who have tested positive for COVID-19 since the epidemic hit Italy reached 17,750, Italian authorities said on Saturday. (Xinhua)
ROME, March 14 (Xinhua) -- The number of people who have tested positive for the novel coronavirus since the epidemic hit Italy reached 17,750 as of Saturday, the Italian authorities said.
The figure marked an increase of 2,795 cases over that of the previous day, and did not include recoveries or fatalities, according to the latest update provided at a press conference by the Civil Protection Department which is coordinating the national emergency response. The death toll also grew by 175 cases on a daily basis to 1,441.
An upward trend was confirmed also for recoveries. Some 527 people were dismissed in the day, bringing the total to 1,966, Civil Protection Department chief Angelo Borrelli told a televised press conference.
Among the 17,750 people positive for COVID-19, some 1,518 were currently in intensive care (190 new cases), while 8,372 were hospitalized with symptoms, and 7,860 under home confinement as they were asymptomatic or with light symptoms.
Considering all data (including deaths and recoveries), the total number of assessed coronavirus cases in Italy was 21,157, Borrelli added.
One of the latest cases was Italy's Deputy Minister of Health Pierpaolo Sileri, who issued a statement on Saturday confirming that he had tested positive.
By making his infection known, Sileri joins a growing list of high-profile officials infected that includes Nicola Zingaretti, president of the region of central Lazio and head of the Democratic Party; Alberto Cirio, president of the northern region of Piedmont; Army Chief of Staff Salvatore Farina, and Deputy Minister of Education Anna Ascani.
According to the latest data provided by the Civil Protection Deptartment, in terms of geographical distribution of infections, Lombardy (9,059), Emilia Romagna (2,349), Veneto (1,775), Marche (863), and Piedmont (814) remained the most affected regions.
Lombardy's regional authorities sounded particularly concerned over the situation on Saturday, in terms of burden on the regional health system.
In a televised press conference in Milan, Lombardy's Welfare Councillor Giulio Gallera explained they currently had 4,898 people hospitalized -- with a daily increase of 463 new cases -- and 732 people in intensive care, including 85 new cases.
"We are working miracles, and the fact we have been so far able to find new beds in intensive care every day is quite unbelievable," Lombardy's regional president Attilio Fontana said at the same press conference.
In related news, the Transport Ministry said all regular connections and passenger transport between the mainland and major Sardinia Island were suspended, following a specific request by the regional president.
"Only maritime transport of goods is allowed... and the maritime transport of people can possibly take place only after authorization of the regional governor, and for urgent needs that cannot be delayed," the ministry said in a statement.
"The same goes for air passenger transport, with one connection only between Rome Fiumicino Airport and Cagliari Airport, as long as the reasons for moving are proven and cannot be postponed," it added.
Italy's National Health Institute (ISS) provided insights related to lethality (number of deaths out of total number of infected people) on the base of data updated until Friday.
"The lethality of COVID-19 in Italy is currently 5.8 percent," the ISS said in a statement on Friday.
"The average age of deceased patients positive to COVID-19 is 80 years, about 15 years higher than the average age of those infected (living)."
"Stratified by age group, lethality is not higher than that in other countries," explained Graziano Onder, director of the ISS department of cardiovascular, endocrine-metabolic, and aging diseases.