Posted on May 28, 2020, 3 p.m.
The outbreak in Italy overwhelmingly struck the nation’s older population and those with pre-existing medical conditions according to the national health authority.
The average age of patients who have lost their battle with the disease is 80 years old, and close to 96% of the COVID-19 fatalities in Italy had previous medical conditions based on data from the country’s ISS Health Institute; which publishes a variety of studies on the outbreak including detailed weekly reports and confirming trends since the onset of the emergency.
“The latest numbers show that new cases and fatalities have a common profile: mostly elderly people with previous illnesses,” ISS chief Silvio Brusaferro said at a news conference Friday.
Italy is considered to be the original European epicenter for the outbreak, and the country has begun to emerge from a nationwide lock down on May 4, 2020 with some 4 million people returning to work. Two weeks later most bars, restaurants and shops were allowed to open with distancing rules, and citizens were allowed to travel freely again within their home regions.
Full free movement is estimated to begin on June 3, 2020. The younger generations there have mistakenly perceived a message that they are not at risk from being infected with the pathogen as mass gatherings are being seen in squares and in nightlife districts with no regards to the set rules of distancing or masks which has the local officials beginning to discuss limiting large groups and banning sales or takeout drinks after 7 PM.
In Italy the average age of those infected is 62 years old, but about 30% of those infected are under the age of 50. Fatality statistics point to a wider generation gap, as of May 25, 2020 only about 1.1% of the fatalities have been those under the age of 50, over 57% were aged 80+, and nearly half of the new cases in May were registered at nursing homes.
In the recent ISS study based on a sampling of 10% of the fatalities until May 21, 2020 only 124 patients or 4.1% of the total had no previous pathology, close to 60% of the fatalities suffered from at least 3 prior illnesses, and about one fifth had 2 conditions. Over 68% had high blood pressure, 30% had diabetes, and 28% had heart disease according to the report.
Additionally, the official figures from Italy may not be capturing the full picture as many of the patients that died in their homes may not have been tested, and several studies are showing a surge in fatalities in the country especially in the North at a higher rate than what the official figures indicate.
There were 11,600 more cases of unexplained deaths in Italy for the first quarter if 2020 as compared to previous years, none of which were registered COVID-19 fatalities according to a joint report from the national statistic office Istat and ISS; and the country’s INPS social security administration is also estimating an excess of 18,971 deaths in March and April coming on top of the official COVID-19 linked fatalities.
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