ROME: One hundred Italian doctors have died of the novel coronavirus since the pandemic reached the Mediterranean country in February, Italy’s FNOMCeO health association said on Thursday.

“The number of doctors who have died because of Covid-19 is 100 — perhaps even 101 at the moment, unfortunately,” a FNOMCeO spokesman said.

The toll includes retired doctors the government began calling in a month ago to help fight a coronavirus that has officially claimed over 18,000 lives in Italy.

Italian media reports estimate that 30 nurses and nursing assistants have also died from Covid-19.

“We can longer allow our doctors, our health workers, to be sent to fight without any protection against the virus,” FNOMCeO president Filippo Anelli said on the association’s website. “It is an unfair fight.”

Rome’s ISS public health institute estimates that 10 per cent of those infected with the novel coronavirus in Italy work in healthcare.

According to an official list, most of the victims worked in and around Lombardy, the region at the centre of the Italian outbreak — although doctors have also died further south in Le Marche, Campania, Sicily and Puglia.

In total 13,121 healthcare workers have contracted the new coronavirus, according to the latest count by the Italian Higher Health Institute (ISS).

Meanwhile, the country’s deaths from the virus rose by 610 on Thursday, up from 542 the day before, and the number of new cases also came in higher at 4,204 from a previous 3,836.

The daily tally of cases was the highest since April 5, and comes as a disappointment to a country in lockdown since March 9, anxious for clear signs that the illness is in retreat.

The total death toll since the outbreak came to light on Feb 21 rose to 18,279, the Civil Protection Agency said, the highest in the world.

The number of confirmed cases climbed to 143,626, the third highest global tally behind those of the United States and Spain.

There were 3,605 people in intensive care on Thursday against 3,693 on Wednesday — a sixth consecutive daily decline offering some good news despite the climb in new cases and fatalities.

In Rome, two trade union sources said the government was planning to extend its lockdown until May 3. The lockdown has been in place since March 9 and was due to end on April 13.

“The prime minister has confirmed that, as of today, the conditions to restart the suspended activities are not yet in place,” union leader Carmelo Barbagallo said.

Published in Dawn, April 10th, 2020

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