Coronavirus deaths in Italy rose by more than 300 overnight to bring the total to 1,809, while 24,747 people have tested positive for the deadly bug.
Italian officials confirmed the jump today, as the national lockdown imposed by Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte earlier this month rumbles on another week.
The shocking development comes as chilling footage shows the obituary of one local newspaper expanding from a single page to 10.
In the video, a man speaking Italian zooms in on the front page of L’Eco di Bergamo that circulates in the city in the hard-hit Lombardy region.
After showing the date of the paper, February 9, he turns to the obituaries to reveal a page and a half of death notices published. On that date, Italy had recorded just three confirmed cases of the disease caused by the coronavirus.
He then holds up an edition of the same newspaper from March 13, when the total number of cases had skyrocketed to 17,600, including 1,266 deaths.
Slowly turning the pages and counting, he shows 10 full pages of obituaries, highlighting the horrific impact of the virus.
It comes as a secret document prepared by a crisis management unit in Turin suggested that victims will be denied access to intensive care if they are aged over 80 or in poor health if pressure on beds increase.
People wear protective face masks while attending a funeral service near Bergamo, Lombardy in northern Italy
The mortuary at the local hospital in Bergamo is full, with bodies kept in churches before funeral service
The unit has drawn up a plan, seen by The Telegraph, that will determine which patients receive treatment in intensive care and which do not if there are insufficient spaces.
Intensive care capacity is running short in Italy as the killer coronavirus continues to spread.
The document, produced by the civil protection deparment of the Piedmont region, one of those hardest hit, says: ‘The criteria for access to intensive therapy in cases of emergency must include age of less than 80 or a score on the Charlson comorbidity Index [which indicates how many other medical conditions the patient has] of less than 5.’
The ability of the patient to recover from resuscitation will also be considered.
One doctor said: ‘[Who lives and who dies] is decided by age and by the [patient’s] health conditions. This is how it is in a war.’
The virus has battered Europe, with Italy, the worst-hit European country, seeing the number of deaths climb to 1,441 and infections surging overnight to more than 21,000 because of what authorities characterized as irresponsible behavior by people still socializing despite the nationwide lockdown.
The northern region of Lombardy, which includes Milan, is the area worst-hit by the virus.
Several cities in the region have been ravaged by the crisis, including picturesque Bergamo, which is just 40 miles from Milan.
Bergamo has been hit hard by the virus, with the mortuary at the local hospital full and bodies kept in churches while awaiting burial.
A man on the way to a funeral service near Bergamo wears a face mask over coronavirus fears
The centre of Bergamo is empty with bars, restaurants and boutiques all closed due to the coronavirus outbreak
A council official claims that funerals are taking place in the country every half an hour.
Giacomo Angeloni, councillor in charge of cemeteries in Bergamo, said: ‘We are facing an emergency there is no doubting that. We are having a burial every half an hour.
‘We had 18 on Saturday, 44 over Sunday and Monday, 33 on Tuesday and 51 on Wednesday. We’ve had to close Bergamo cemetery for the time being to cope.
‘We are using churches as temporary mortuaries. I have to thank my staff for what they are doing in the face of this tragedy. Certainly we never imagined having to deal with an emergency on this level.’
Yesterday, Italy reported its biggest day-to-day jump in cases of the virus.
A little more than half of those new cases occurred in Lombardy.
Pope Francis delivers his blessing from his studio window overlooking St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican today
A person tries to take picture of the Pope Francis at St Peter’s Square on the sixth day of an unprecedented lockdown across of all Italy
It comes as Pope Francis praised people for their continuing efforts to help vulnerable communities, including the poor and the homeless, amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Francis for a second Sunday delivered noon remarks and the spoken blessing from inside the Apostolic Library instead of from a window overlooking St. Peter’s Square.
‘Dear brothers and sisters, in these days St. Peter’s Square is closed, so my greeting is aimed directly at you are connected’ via TV, online and other means.
Francis hailed the archbishop of Milan who last week went atop that city’s cathedral to pray before a statue of the Madonna as an example of priests’ ‘creativity’ in keeping spiritually close to their flock.
Francis expressed his own closeness to the sick, to those caring for them or tending to people isolated at home during lockdowns.
As he did a week earlier, he later waved from the window and gave a silent blessing with his arm, but this time there were no members of the public in the square, just a few well-wishers standing just beyond the square’s boundaries.
Spanish authorities meanwhile said the number of infections in the country climbed past 5,700, with half of them in the capital, Madrid.
That represents a national increase of over 1,500 in 24 hours. The country had 136 deaths, up from 120.
Spain has the fifth-highest number of cases, behind China, Italy, Iran and South Korea.
In a nationally televised address Saturday, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez detailed the battery of exceptional measures put in place as part of a two-week state of emergency to fight the sharp rise in infections.
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez (right) and his wife Begona Gomez. She has tested positive for the coronavirus
Two ministers of Sanchez’s Cabinet, the minister of equality and the minister of regional affairs, had already tested positive earlier this week
Later Saturday, Spain’s government said Sanchez’s wife has tested positive for coronavirus. Begona Gomez and the prime minister are in good health, the goverrnment said.
Two ministers of Sanchez’s Cabinet, the minister of equality and the minister of regional affairs, had already tested positive earlier this week. The others member of the Cabinet have tested negative.
In a lockdown similar to the one already imposed in Italy, people will be allowed to leave their homes only to buy food and medicine, commute to work, go to hospitals and banks, or take trips related to the care of the young and the elderly. All schools and universities were closed, along with restaurants, bars, hotels and other non-essential retail businesses.
‘From now we enter into a new phase,’ Sanchez said after a Cabinet meeting that lasted over seven hours. ‘We won’t hesitate in doing what we must to beat the virus. We are putting health first.’
Meanwhile, it was announced that all French ski resorts are closing today and will not reopen for the rest of the season.
‘The ski season ends today,’ Domaines Skiables de France, which groups the country’s resort operators, said on Twitter.
‘Holiday-makers and professionals, we’re all passionate about skiing and must face up to the seriousness of the situation.’
French voters used hand sanitiser and face masks as they headed to the polls to cast their vote during the coronavirus lockdown.
They have also been asked to bring their own pens and stand three-feet away from each other as they turn out to vote in local elections for mayors and municipal councils.
President Emmanuel Macron committed to the vote last night as he placed the country in lockdown and closed all ‘non-essential public places’ including cafes, bars and restaurants.
But officials fear that many will stay away despite assurances that the most basic measures will protect even the most vulnerable.
France reported a surge in coronavirus cases by 832 last night, bringing its total to 4,499. As many as 91 people have died from the virus. There has also been a rapid increase in serious cases, said head of public health Jerome Salomon, with 150 people below the age of 60 in intensive care.