Raising hope, new coronavirus cases in Italy slow for second day


ROME (AP) — Italy recorded a lower daily increase in new coronavirus cases for the second day in a row, officials said Monday while warning it was too early to know if the worst is behind the country with the world’s second largest workload.

Data released by Italy’s civil protection agency showed 4,789 new cases from the previous day, nearly 700 less than the daily increase of 5,560 new cases reported on Sunday.

The number of deaths has also not increased as much. There were just over 600 additional viruses recorded in Italy on Monday compared to 651 on Sunday.

Italy is eager to see day-to-day numbers of new cases and deaths drop as it enters a third week under a nationwide lockdown and its healthcare system struggles under the weight of the biggest COVID outbreak -19 in the world outside of China.

As of Monday, Italy had a total of 59,138 cases of the virus compared to 81,496 in China, and the country is on course to have twice as many deaths soon.

It was only Saturday that Italian authorities reported another series of grim one-day highs from the outbreak that first swept across northern Italy from last month: 793 more dead and 6 557 new cases.

Health authorities have warned that it will take a few more days before knowing if Italy is at the start of a positive trend.

“These are crucial days. Woe to anyone who lets their guard down,’ Health Minister Roberto Speranza said of Monday’s figures. “Today more than ever, everyone’s commitment is needed.”

A senior national health official, Silvio Brusaferro, resisted being too optimistic, saying the improvements recorded on Monday were due to measures taken earlier in the month, not in recent days.

“We need more consecutive results to confirm the trend, to be more certain that we are in a favorable situation,” Brusaferro said.

For most people, the new coronavirus only causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever or cough. But for some older people and people with existing health conditions, it can cause more serious illnesses, including pneumonia. More than 100,000 people have recovered, including nearly 60,000 in China and more than 7,000 in Italy.

A government decree that came into effect on March 10 prohibits people from leaving their homes except to go to work, shop for food or other necessities, exercise or walk dogs for brief periods, or to perform essential tasks such as caring for an elderly parent. In the Lombardy region, where the outbreak began, restrictions are even stricter.

In Milan, the capital of Lombardy. which is by far the most affected region in Italy, regional health officials expressed moderate optimism after daily increases in positive test results and hospitalizations of new COVID-19 patients were lower. But they expressed renewed concern about the urgent need for additional intensive care beds.

Lombardy’s health commissioner, Giulio Gallera, said on Monday the number of cases had risen to 29,761, a daily increase of 1,555 as opposed to the one-day jump of 3,200 recorded on Saturday. The cities of Bergamo and Milan both showed signs of improvement, but the number of cases jumped significantly in Brescia, another hard-hit Lombard city which recorded 588 new cases on Monday.

“Maybe this is the first positive day of this very difficult month,” Gallera said. “Now is not the time to relax. We need to be even more consistent.”

The northern region has commandeered a 300-room hotel for people who must self-quarantine and cannot properly distance themselves from family members at home. Lombardy’s governor signed an order on Saturday requiring all guests to vacate hotels within 72 hours to free accommodations for possible use in the event of a public health emergency.


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