Italy surpasses UK for worst COVID-19 loss of life toll in Europe

In this file photo dated May 8, 2020, flowers and stones in the shape of a heart are placed on a grave site, while white crosses are placed on Campo 81, an area housing COVID-19 victims, in Maggiore Cemetery in New York are scattered around Milan, Italy. Italy dwarfed the UK on Sunday, December 13, 2020 to become the nation with the worst official coronavirus death toll in Europe. Italy, where the continent’s pandemic began, recorded 484 COVID-19 deaths in one day, one of the lowest single-day deaths in about a month. (AP Photo / Luca Bruno, file)

Italy dwarfed Britain on Sunday to become the nation with the worst official coronavirus death toll in Europe.

Italy, where the continent’s pandemic began, recorded 484 COVID-19 deaths in one day, one of the lowest single-day deaths in about a month.

Even so, these recent deaths have brought Italy’s official number to 64,520, while the UK’s number was 64,267, according to a record by Johns Hopkins University.

Both numbers underestimate the real toll of the pandemic. The counting criteria are different in both countries, and it is believed that many coronavirus deaths, especially at the start of the pandemic, went undetected, including those of elderly people in nursing homes who were not tested for COVID-19.

One of the reasons for the high death toll in Italy was that it was the first country in Europe to be hit by the pandemic and health workers had to deal with a largely unknown virus. Italy also has a lower medical staff-to-patient ratio compared to other European countries.

Germany, a nation much larger than Italy, has a third of the fatalities of either Italy or Britain.

Just over half of the known COVID-19 deaths in Italy were recorded in the first surge.

Italy outperforms the UK because of the worst COVID-19 number in Europe
A nurse takes care of a patient in a COVID-19 intensive care unit at the Tor Vergata Polyclinic Hospital in Rome, Sunday, December 13, 2020. Italy is claiming back a record that nobody wants: Most coronavirus deaths in Europe. Italy is still trying to figure out how to protect its vulnerable elderly. (AP Photo / Alessandra Tarantino)

On Sunday, Italy reported another 17,938 coronavirus infections, bringing its official number to 1.84 million.

The region with the highest rate of new infections was by far the northern region of Veneto. Italy’s Lombardy region has the highest number of cases and deaths overall.

The Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has largely followed the advice of the medical experts and tightened the travel rules for the period between Christmas, New Year and Epiphany. From December 21st until January 6th, people in Italy can only travel between regions for professional or urgent reasons such as health problems.

On the holidays themselves, Italians cannot leave their cities under statewide restrictions as the government tries to prevent families and friends from gathering indoors in large numbers.

  • Italy outperforms the UK because of the worst COVID-19 number in Europe
    A nurse adjusts a patient’s oximeter in the intensive care unit COVID-19 of the Tor Vergata Polyclinic Hospital in Rome on Sunday December 13, 2020. Italy is reclaiming a record nobody wants: Most coronavirus deaths in Europe. Italy is still trying to figure out how to protect its vulnerable elderly. (AP Photo / Alessandra Tarantino)
  • Italy outperforms the UK because of the worst COVID-19 number in Europe
    Doctor Luigi Cavanna, right, is walking with his nurse assistant Gabriele Cremona after a home visit to a COVID-19 patient in Travo, near Piacenza, Italy, on Wednesday December 2, 2020. (AP Photo / Antonio Calanni)
  • Italy outperforms the UK because of the worst COVID-19 number in Europe
    Doctor Luigi Cavanna, right, speaks to wife Luciana of COVID-19 patient Giancarlo Salvi while listening from the couch in her home in San Nicolo near Piacenza, Italy, on Wednesday December 2, 2020. (AP Photo / Antonio Calanni)
  • Italy outperforms the UK because of the worst COVID-19 number in Europe
    Doctor Luigi Cavanna leaves the home of a COVID-19 patient in Monticelli d’Ongina near Piacenza, Italy on Wednesday December. 2, 2020. (AP Photo / Antonio Calanni)

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