Italy mourns its covid dead with remembrance day on 18 March

Flags at half mast and minute of silence throughout Italy for the first Giornata nazionale in memoria delle vittime di covid.

Italy has declared 18 March as the national day in memory of the victims of covid-19, after a bill was approved unanimously by the Italian senate yesterday.

Flags will fly at half mast across Italy today with mayors throughout the country to hold a minute of silence at 11.00 to "preserve and renew the memory of all the people who died because of he epidemic."

Italy's premier Mario Draghi will attend a ceremony at 11.00 in Bergamo in the northern Lombardy region, a city devastated by the first wave of the coronavirus.

Together with the Lombardy governor Attilio Fontana, the prime minister will lay a wreath of flowers at the cemetery in the city which this time last year was the epicentre of Italy's covid-19 emergency.

The choice of date for the commemoration is in memory of the grim events of 18 March 2020: on this night last year a convoy of army trucks carried the coffins of covid-19 victims out of Bergamo because its cemeteries had reached capacity.

The shocking image made news around the world. Also on this day last year Italy saw its total death toll from covid reach almost 3,000.

Institutional events are planned from north to south of Italy today as the country remembers all the people who have died with coronavirus since the outbreak began; the latest data by the health ministry put that figure at 103,432.

Following the wreath-laying ceremony, Bergamo will see the inauguration of the Bosco della Memoria, at the Parco alla Trucca, with the planting of the first 100 trees in memory of the covid dead.

In Rome a minute of silence will be held in the senate whose flags will be hoisted at half mast, while Florence will unveil a plaque in the courtyard of the Dogana of Palazzo Vecchio, in memory of the Florentine deaths due to covid, at 13.30.

Milan will host a commemorative event at 11.00 in Piazza Scala and this evening the city's Palazzo Pirelli and Palazzo Lombardia will be illuminated with the lights of the tricolour.

Yesterday evening the health ministry announced 23,059 new covid-19 cases, and 431 more fatalities, in Italy over the last 24 hours.