Italy recorded 49.4 percent more deaths across the country in March than the average for the month over the previous five years, official data showed on Monday.
The number of deaths across Italy from the day the first novel coronavirus case was recorded on February 20 rose by 38.7 percent, figures from the ISTAT statistics agency and the ISS public health institute showed.
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The Mediterranean country has officially attributed 28,884 deaths to the virus, but the figures mostly include hospital deaths.
Few of the elderly in care homes have been tested, and the number of deaths from the virus in the community is unknown.
Data released Monday showed that 25,354 more people died in March across the country that the average for the month between 2015 and 2019.
The data showed that 13,691, or 54 percent, of the 25,354 March fatalities "are COVID-19 diagnosed deaths".
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These would be included in Italy's official virus toll, leaving 11,663 so-called excess deaths.
ISTAT and the ISS said in a joint statement that there were three possible explanations for these 11,663 additional fatalities.
One was that these people were never tested for the virus but actually had it when they passed away.
There is also “an indirect effect of the virus”, in which COVID-19 exacerbates an existing condition, such as kidney or other organ dysfunction, the statement said.
The third cause is the consequence “of an excessive stress on the health care system, especially in the more affected areas” of Italy, said the statement.
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