Italy could soon overtake the UK’s coronavirus death toll, as it announced on Friday that another 761 people had died after contracting the virus.
It brings the country’s total number of COVID-19 related deaths to 63,387 – close to the UK’s total of 63,506.
The UK has the highest coronavirus death toll in Europe.
Since September, Italy has recorded more than 28,000 coronavirus deaths, including 993 in a single day earlier in December.
If Italy overtakes the UK, it would only be below Mexico, India and the US in terms of the number of its citizens who have died during the pandemic, according to Johns Hopkins University.
The country, which was one of the hardest hit during the first wave, has the second-oldest population in the world, with the average age of those who have died with COVID-19 in Italy at around 80.
Matteo Villa, a research fellow at the Institute for International Political Studies, said the Italian government waited too long before imposing restrictions after cases began rising in September and October, and failed to bolster the country’s health system over the summer.
“If you can act sooner, even a bit lighter in the measures, they work better than acting harshly a bit later or too late,” he said.
“If you look at France and the UK, you can see Italy did fare much worse… and if you look at a comparable population with similar demographics, which is Germany, Italy did a lot worse.”
It recorded another 950 coronavirus cases on Saturday, bringing its total number of cases to 41,736.
In the last 15 days alone, the country has added 8,900 cases to its total, with capital Seoul being hit the hardest.
The country relaxed its social distancing restrictions to its lowest level in October, despite warnings by experts that there could be a spike in cases due to the colder weather forcing people indoors.
President Moon Jae-in has apologised for not being able to contain the outbreak, despite its comparatively low case rate, and pleaded for vigilance saying South Korea was going through its “last crisis before the arrival of vaccines and treatment”.
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