Italy’s coronavirus death toll is likely much higher than official figures indicate, according to a new report — a grim indication of what might lie in store for the US.
The country, which quickly emerged as Europe’s epicenter of the virus, has an official fatality count of 13,155 as of Thursday afternoon — more than any other nation in the world. However, that number doesn’t factor in the many people who perished without ever being tested for COVID-19, according to experts and an analysis by the Wall Street Journal.
“There are many more dead than are officially declared. But this is not a j’accuse. People died and they were never tested because time and resources are limited,” Eugenio Fossati, deputy mayor of Coccaglio, told the paper.
In his town, a nursing home lost over a third of its residents last month — but none of the 24 people who died were tested for the virus.
The same is true of the 38 people who died at another nearby nursing home in Lodi, and many other communities, according to the paper.
In the cities of Bergamo and Brescia — two of the worst hotspots for the outbreak — experts believe the real death toll may be double the official count.
In March, 2,060 deaths were reported in Bergamo and 1,278 in Brescia.
“We know the real number is higher, and we mourn them, knowing full well why they died,” said Fossati. “It’s a hard truth to accept.”
The number of tallied virus carriers — 111,000 — is also limited to people who showed symptoms in the country, the paper reported.
The country’s hidden death toll should act as a warning for other virus-plagued areas of the US and Europe if the pandemic is not contained quickly, the report states.
The US coronavirus death toll surged past 5,300 on Thursday — eclipsing China’s official count of 3,322, according to a tally being kept by Johns Hopkins University.