News World Europe Coronavirus hits Switzerland as Italy death toll leaps by 793 in just 24 hours
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Coronavirus hits Switzerland as Italy death toll leaps by 793 in just 24 hours

Two more casualties join Italy's virus toll in the northern city of Bergamo. Photo: AP/Claudio Furlan
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Italy’s coronavirus death toll has leapt by 793 in just 24 hours – by far the largest daily spike since the contagion emerged a month ago.

As virus deaths top 4825, neighbouring Switzerland is being drawn into the vortex of escalating infections, with 6100 fresh coronavirus cases reported in the space of a single day.

With the Swiss toll now at 56 deaths, anxious health ministry officials are desperately hoping the country can avoid replicating Italy’s infection curve, which saw an increase of 19.6 per cent on Friday.

On Thursday, Italy overtook China as the country to register most deaths from the highly contagious virus. The total number of cases in Italy rose to 53,578 from a previous 47,021, an increase of 13.9 per cent, the Civil Protection Agency said.

The hardest-hit northern region of Lombardy remains in a critical situation, with 3095 deaths and 25,515 cases.

Of those originally infected across the country, 6072 had fully recovered on Saturday compared to 5129 the day before. There were 2857 people in intensive care against a previous 2655.

The Swiss canton of Ticino on the Italian border has banned seniors over 65 from leaving their homes to shop.

“The situation in Ticino is very tense,” said Daniel Koch, head of the Federal Office of Health’s communicable diseases division on Saturday.

The latest count nationwide is up more than 1200 cases in a day, while the deaths increased to 13 from Friday.

The local government in Ticino, with so far 918 reported coronavirus cases and 28 deaths, ordered people aged 65 and over to stay home and only leave if they needed to visit the doctor or for work, Swiss radio SRF reported.

The government said family members or specially organised municipal services should deliver food to older citizens while they are restricted to their homes, newspaper Corriere del Ticino said.

The Swiss military took delivery of 50 additional ventilators and deployed them in Ticino on Friday, amid a global race by countries to add more potentially life-saving breathing devices needed by critically ill patients to give them a fighting chance of survival.

-with AAP