The coronavirus death toll in Italy climbed to 366 on Sunday, while total cases of infections reached 7,300. Following an overnight spike in deaths that put the world's uneasy attention on the country, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said on Monday his government is planning a "massive shock therapy" to take on the Covd-19 epidemic outbreak.

The coronavirus outbreak has killed 3,800 people worldwide, more than 3,000 of them in China, the epicentre of the virus contagion. The total number of confirmed cases of the Wuhan virus now stands at more than 109,000, while around 100 countries and territories have reported the outbreak.

Italy on Europe's map
Italy (marked in red) Wikimedia Commons

Why is Italy in focus?

A highly developed and prosperous country with advanced healthcare facilities was not initially thought to become an easy victim to the virus outbreak. However, the latest numbers show the impact of the outbreak was the severest in Italy outside of China.

What's the fatality rate in Italy?

Italy prison riots
Twitter/My Amigo

As per data provided by the European Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the death rate in Italy from the coronavirus is 3.9 percent. The latest spurt in reported fatalities on Sunday indicate that the numbers may further increase the death rate in country.

What is WHO's coronavirus mortality rate projection?

The World health organisation (WHO) had initially estimated that the fatality rate from the China virus would be around 2 percent. However, this was proved wrong in the second phase of the outbreak. As per data, the global fatality rate is 3.4 percent. This is likely to change with more countries update the number of infections and deaths.

What's the mortality rate in China?

Available statistics show that the coronavirus fatality rate in China is 3.8 percent, significantly higher than the world average but slightly less than Italy's.

Are more people dying in Italy?

The average death rate, calculated by dividing absolute number of infections by confirmed deaths, shows more people in Italy are dying of coronavirus than in the rest of the world. According to Italian health officials, the great majority of victims are elderly people. In fact, all those who died are above the age 60. And most of them had pre-existing health conditions, the official shave said.

Coronavirus status as of 8 March, 2020
Coronavirus status as of 8 March, 2020 GISAID

Is higher median age an indicator?

A comparison of Italy's median age with that of China shows that the higher fatty rate is probably because of the greater number of geriatric population in the country. The median age of Italy's population is 45.9 years. That's far higher than the median age in many regions of the world. Even within the European Union, Italy is ways ahead of other countries in this department. The EU's median is 42.8.

For reference, the median age in China is a far lower 37. Iran, another country with high infections and deaths, has a very low median age of 32. South Korea is another country that has seen a serious outbreak, but deaths have been fewer here compared with other countries. The media age of the population in South Korea is 40.

Is fatality rate an accurate indicator of situation?

It does not have to be, always. For example the death rate from coronavirus is highest in the United States, so far. According to the New York Times, the latest number of infections in the US is 500, while as many as 22 people have died from the virus. That puts the mortality rate at 4.4 percent.

Where does S.Korea stand in terms of mortality?

On the other hand, the situation in South Korea is at the other end of the spectrum. While the reported cases are nearly as much as Italy's the death toll is still very low. According to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, coronavirus cases now stand at 7,478, while 51 people have died.