The death toll from a coronavirus outbreak in Italy breached past the 10,000 mark, a figure that made it almost likely for authorities to expand a national lockdown.
The death toll in the country is now the highest in the world. According to Italy's Civil Protection Agency, deaths reached the grim mark on Saturday, with a rise of 889 since the last figures were posted on Friday.
Italy appears to have the highest death rate on the planet, with 92,472 confirmed cases. Contrast it with China, the epicenter of the pandemic a few weeks ago, which, according to Johns Hopkins University and Medicine, has an approximate equivalent number of reported cases at 81,997, just about a third as many fatalities.
Italy now looks likely to expand its economically crippling - and socially exhausting - closures of businesses and the prohibition on large gatherings past their deadline of April 3.
"Is it time we reopened the country? I think we really need to think hard about it," Civil Protection Service Chief Angelo Borrelli told reporters.
Italians had started to hope that their worst tragedy in decades was decreasing after the increase in daily death rates on March 22 started to ease.
But the sudden surge has shifted the mood of the Mediterranean community. Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte instructed Italians to be able to spend more time cooped up at home late Saturday.
The area of Lombardy that suffered the worst of the contagion reported 542 new deaths, taking the total to 5,944 there.
After the figures were released, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte told a news conference that he had approved a new package of EUR 4.7 billion ($5.24 billion) of initiatives to support those hardest affected, including shopping vouchers and food packages.
After the United States, Italy currently has the second-highest number of confirmed cases in the world, which stands at 105,470. Yet the United States has a fraction of the deaths, at just over 1,700.
As the nation enters its sixth week of restrictions, many people are asking: why does its mortality rate seem so much higher than other countries?
Experts believe it's due to a variety of factors, like the huge elderly population in the country that's more vulnerable to the virus, and the testing process that doesn't give the full picture of infections.
Meanwhile, it is predicted that the entire euro region will fall into a recession in the coming months. Yet after becoming the first European country to shut down almost all its companies on March 12, Italy faces the possibility of a near-economic failure.