The number of coronavirus deaths in ITALY rose sharply on Monday as new cases of infection dropped – offering hope that the country’s lockdowns could be eased.
On Monday, 636 COVID-19 deaths were recorded, bringing the total to 16,523 – but new cases increased by 3,599 to 132,547, the smallest daily increase since March 17.
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The new figure saw an increase of 100 on Sunday’s balance sheet since 525, after diving under Britain for the first time the day before.
Before Monday, daily increases since March 17 were all in the range of 4,050 to 6,557.
The number of patients in poorly stretched intensive care units also declined for the second consecutive day, while new cases saw their smallest increase in five days, increasing by 4,316.
Italian health leaders are currently discussing how to lift the lockdown restrictions – first imposed on March 9 – as part of the country’s “phase two” strategy against coronaviruses.
Silvio Brusaferro, director of the Istituto Superiore di Sanità, Italy’s largest health institute, said: “The curve has reached a plateau and started to descend.
“It is a result that we must achieve day after day.
“If this is confirmed, we have to start thinking about the second phase and limit the spread of this disease. “
Health Minister Roberto Speranza described a series of measures, including more tests and a strengthened local health system, aimed at allowing gradual relaxation of the restrictions.
“There are difficult months ahead. Our job is to create the conditions to live with the virus, “at least until a vaccine is developed,” he told La Repubblica.
The national closure, strictly limiting population movements and freezing all non-essential economic activity, will officially last until April 13 at least.
But it is widely expected to be extended, and Speranza said it was too early to say when he could be lifted.
The minister said he had released a note outlining five principles around which the government plans to deal with the so-called “phase two” of the emergency – when the lock-in restrictions start to be relaxed but before a full return to normal conditions.
He said social distancing should remain, with wider use of personal protective devices such as face masks.
And local health systems will be strengthened to allow faster and more effective treatment of suspected Covid-19 cases, he added.
Tests and “contact tracing” would also be extended, including the use of applications for smartphones and other technologies, while a network of hospitals dedicated solely to the treatment of corona patients would be set up, did he declare.
But despite the light at the end of the tunnel, the authorities insisted that the Italians do not indulge.
Angelo Borelli, head of the civil protection department, said yesterday at a daily briefing: “Don’t lower your guards, stay at home. “
In Spain, the death toll has fallen again today, with 637 patients dying overnight, bringing the total to 13,055, the government said.
Although Spain has the second highest death toll in the world after Italy, the number of deaths every day has declined since the peak of 950 on Thursday, according to figures from the Ministry of Health.
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Monday’s data showed that the total number of cases increased from 4,273 to 135,032 – up from 130,759 the day before.
Meanwhile, France experienced its largest daily increase in coronavirus deaths, making it the most affected in Europe ahead of Italy and Spain.
A further 833 people died of COVID-19 in 24 hours on Monday, bringing the country’s total death toll to 8,911.
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