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Global Times

Italy registers 199,414 coronavirus infections, death toll at 26,977

Global Times

Source:Xinhua Published: 2020/4/28 12:36:01

The coronavirus pandemic has claimed 26,977 lives in locked-down Italy, bringing the total number of infections, fatalities and recoveries so far to 199,414, according to the latest official tally released on Monday.

The past 24 hours saw a total of 333 new fatalities, compared to 260 a day earlier, Civil Protection Department chief Angelo Borrelli, who serves as extraordinary commissioner for the coronavirus emergency, told a televised press conference in late afternoon.

Meanwhile, a total of 1,696 new recoveries pushed up to 66,624 the total number of cured patients since the pandemic first broke out in the northern Lombardy region.

Total active infections stood at 105,813, a decrease of 290 compared to the previous day.

The total number of infections, fatalities and recoveries stood at 199,414, which is 1,739 higher than the caseload on Sunday. The downward trend in new infections detected since last week continued on Monday.

The number of COVID-19 patients in serious and critical conditions also kept declining, with 1,956 people currently in intensive care, down by 53 compared to Sunday, and 20,353 people hospitalized, down by 1,019.

Up to 83,504 people are under home isolation because they are asymptomatic or with mild symptoms. The figure equates to 79 percent of all active cases.

Borrelli said private donations to a special bank account -- opened by the Civil Protection Department and devoted to the COVID-19 emergency -- have exceeded 141.4 million euros (153 million U.S. dollars).

Of these solidarity funds, over 79 million euros (85.5 million U.S. dollars) have been spent so far to purchase ventilators for ICUs and protective gear for medical staff, according to Borrelli.

At the same press conference, Italy's National Health Institute (ISS) President Silvio Brusaferro spoke about the strategy to adopt in the next weeks to keep the pandemic under control, once the country relaxes the lockdown in place from March 10 to May 3.

"The (epidemiological) trend -- beyond some possible drops linked to the weekend, when a lesser number of swabs is usually carried out -- shows a progressive decrease in the number of deaths and of infections," Brusaferro told reporters, adding "However, this means the virus is still circulating in our territory."

"This factor brings us to believe that, as we start to open cautiously (business activities) over the next few days, we will have to monitor very carefully the number of infections, and all of the other indicators, such as the intensive care beds used (by COVID-19 patients)," the ISS chief explained.

Italy entered into a national lockdown on March 10 to contain the pandemic. The lockdown, expected to last until May 3, will be followed by a so-called "Phase Two," which involves the gradual resumption of social, economic and productive activities.

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said on Sunday that beginning May 4, the manufacturing, construction, and wholesale sectors can resume work. Following them are retailers, museums, galleries, and libraries on May 18 and bars, restaurants, hairdressers and beauty salons on June 1. All businesses will have to follow rigorous workplace safety protocols.

On Monday afternoon, Conte paid a visit to Lombardy, the country's worst-hit region.

The prime minister met with local authorities at Milan's prefecture, and then visited Bergamo and Brescia, the two most affected provinces in Lombardy.

In a short briefing from Milan, Conte warned citizens again that maintaining interpersonal safety distance would be crucial once the full lockdown will be eased, in order not to allow the pandemic surge again.

"It is a phase to face with caution ... we cannot waste all our sacrifices," Conte said.

Meanwhile, a day after Conte confirmed schools across the country would not reopen until September, Italian President Sergio Mattarella addressed students in a video message, saying "Closed schools represent a wound for everyone, but first and foremost for all of you, and for your teachers."

He said the extended closure was affecting more than 8 million pupils enrolled in the country's school system, "something unbelievable, which has never happened before in the history of education."

Yet, this hard experience might also provide an opportunity to grow, according to Mattarella.

"The world will no longer be as before (the pandemic), and yet nobody really can tell us what it will be like," the head of state said.

"How the world will be tomorrow actually depends much on you, who are students today ... from your ability to think it, plan it, and live it. From your commitment."

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