This week, the prime minister of Italy placed the entire country on lockdown in response to the Covid-19 coronavirus outbreak.

The lockdown, which is expected to last through 3 April, has been issued as a quarantine measure to limit the spread of the coronavirus in the country as the number of cases continues to grow. Italy currently has the highest number of cases of Covid-19 outside of China, the epicentre of the Covid-19 coronavirus outbreak. With over 10,000 cases and over 600 deaths, Italy has been reported to have a higher death rate than the global average of 3.4%. A recent survey analysis from Italy’s Instituto Superiore di Sanità (ISS) has reported that more than 56.6% of patients who have died from Covid-19 were over 80 years old, and more than two-thirds of the patients had pre-existing chronic conditions. The most common comorbidity was hypertension, followed by ischemic heart disease and diabetes.

Figure 1 presents the proportion of Covid-19 deaths by age groups for patients ages 40 years and older in Italy. The highest proportion of Covid-19 deaths was among the age group 80 years and older, at 56.6%.

The ISS has also noted that a significant proportion of people affected by Covid-19 are under the age of 30 years and that the age group may be a significant focus for transmission prevention measures. Targeting this younger age group may be one strategy used by health officials to combat the spread of the disease and reduce transmission. However, Italy should also focus on the older age group as a high-risk factor, especially for those ages 60 years and older who are more susceptible to Covid-19, and for those with pre-existing health conditions. In Italy, the number of people ages 60 years and older continues to grow annually and accounts for a higher proportion of the total population, compared to the US.

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