But optimism has been tempered by the rise in the number of virus deaths in Britain, which has exceeded the daily toll in Italy.
Angelo Borrelli, head of the Italian civil defense agency, said on Sunday evening that there had been 525 deaths in the 24 hours since Saturday evening. This is the lowest number in the country since 427 deaths were recorded on March 19.
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Italy now has 15,887 deaths and almost 129,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19.
On a shy month-long day under the national blockade ordered by the Italian government, the lower number of daily deaths was encouraging.
The number of beds in intensive care units occupied by patients with COVID-19 has also decreased in recent days, including in northern Lombardy, the most affected region in Italy.
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Borrelli also noted with some satisfaction that the number of people hospitalized but not in intensive care beds has also decreased.
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Italy registered 4,316 new cases on Sunday. Earlier in the epidemic, the daily increase in the number of cases exceeded 6,000.
“The curve, which has been stagnating for days, is starting to go down,” national health official Silvio Brusaferro told reporters, referring to graphs showing the daily number of confirmed cases.
But Borrelli warned, “This good news shouldn’t keep our guard down. “
For days, anticipating a possible downward slope of the curve, the Italian government and health officials warned that movement restrictions would likely last in one form or another for weeks.
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The virus causes mild to moderate symptoms in most people, but for some, especially the elderly and infirm, it can cause severe pneumonia and death.
As warm, sunny weather beckoned across Europe, Queen Elizabeth II called on the British to exercise self-discipline in “an increasingly difficult period”.
Britain recorded 708 new deaths from coronavirus on Saturday while Italy reported 631 deaths that day. With 621 additional deaths reported on Sunday, Britain has a total of 4,934 deaths from the virus among 47,806 cases. Among those who caught the virus in the UK are Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the Secretary of Health, the British Chief Medical Officer and Prince Charles, heir to the British throne.
There are serious fears that Johnson’s Conservative government wouldn’t take the virus seriously enough at first and that the spring weather will prompt the British and others to break social distancing rules.
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Movement restrictions vary from country to country. In Germany and Britain, residents can exercise and walk their dog, go to the supermarket and perform other essential tasks.
Swedish authorities have advised the public to socialize, but schools, bars and restaurants are still open.
Spain announced on Sunday 6,023 new confirmed infections, bringing its national balance sheet to 130,759 but down from an increase of 7,026 infections the day before. The number of new deaths confirmed by Spain fell for the third day in a row to 674 – the first time daily deaths have dropped below 800 in the past week.
“We are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel,” said Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez.
© 2020 The Canadian Press