The number of infections and deaths from the coronavirus in Italy could be much higher than the numbers that have been reported because the country reportedly does not have the resources that it needs to test everyone suspected of having the virus, which originated in China.
The Wall Street Journal reported this week that an analysis it compiled showed that Italy was under-reporting thousands of deaths due to how fast the pandemic is spreading.
Two of the examples highlighted by The Wall Street Journal included:
Nowhere in Italy has been harder hit than Bergamo, a city of about 120,000 people. In March 2019, 125 people died in the city. This March, 553 people died. Of these, 201 deaths were officially attributed to the virus. This leaves 352 further deaths for the period, far higher than normal.
In the wider Bergamo province, which comprises the city and more than 240 small towns and has a total population of 1.1 million, 2,060 people died in March from the virus, according to the official count. But some 4,500 more people died in the province in March than a year earlier, according to a new joint study by the local Eco di Bergamo newspaper and research firm InTwig that took data from 91 towns in the province.
“There are many more dead than are officially declared,” Eugenio Fossati, deputy mayor of Coccaglio, said. “But this is not a j’accuse. People died and they were never tested because time and resources are limited.”
“We know the real number is higher, and we mourn them, knowing full well why they died,” Fossati continued. “It’s a hard truth to accept.”
For a long time Italy had been the hardest hit country in Europe, although that is slowly starting to change as an outbreak in Spain has put the two countries nearly neck-and-neck for total reported cases at more than 119,000 cases each. Italy still has some 3,500 more recorded deaths than Spain does with 14,681+ deaths to Spain’s 11,198 deaths.
While Italy’s numbers appear to be under reported it does not appear that it was done out of any kind of malicious intent unlike in China.
The Washington Post reported:
The coronavirus pandemic ravaging the globe officially claimed 2,563 lives in Wuhan, where it began in a market that sold exotic animals for consumption. But evidence emerging from the city as it stirs from its two-month hibernation suggests the real death toll is exponentially higher. …
Using photos posted online, social media sleuths have estimated that Wuhan funeral homes had returned 3,500 urns a day since March 23. That would imply a death toll in Wuhan of about 42,000 — or 16 times the official number. Another widely shared calculation, based on Wuhan’s 84 furnaces running nonstop and each cremation taking an hour, put the death toll at 46,800.
The analysis from The Washington Post came after Bloomberg News reported earlier this week that U.S. intelligence officials told President Donald Trump that China lied about the extent of the outbreak.
“China’s public reporting on cases and deaths is intentionally incomplete,” Bloomberg News reported, according to three U.S. officials that it spoke to. “Two of the officials said the report concludes that China’s numbers are fake.”
Scientific advisers reportedly told British Prime Minister Boris Johnson last week that China severely downplayed the extent of the coronavirus outbreak in its country and that the real number could be “15 to 40 times” higher.