Italy’s coronavirus death toll passes 20,000

By Virginia Hebrero

Rome, Apr 13 (efe-epa).- Italian authorities on Monday said 566 coronavirus patients had died overnight, bringing the overall death toll in the country to 20,465.

The daily toll jumped from Sunday’s 431, which was the lowest recorded in the country — one of the worst-affected in the world — in three weeks.

The number of infections recorded in Italy since the outbreak took hold in late February has topped 159,516 people, around 103,600 of them active, with an additional 3,153 reported in the last 24 hours, according to Angelo Borrelli, the Civil Protection agency chief.

Scientific Advisor Gianni Rezza said the data proved Italy was “no doubt” still in phase one of its coronavirus response.

Around 72,330 infected people are isolating at home and the number of people in ICU has decreased for the 10th day in a row, down to 3,260.

“There are positive signs, but the number of deaths is still high,” Rezza said, adding, however, that the fatalities recorded today first contracted the virus weeks ago.

Despite the fact the pandemic has slowed in the last few weeks and the hospitals are no longer on the brink of collapse, Italy’s government remains careful not to let down its guard.

For that reason it has prolonged the nationwide lockdown, which includes the confinement of the population to their houses and a pause in all but essential economic activity, until 3 May.

The measures had been due to expire 13 April.

The new decree, which will come into effect Tuesday – given that Monday is a public holiday in Italy – will permit several small businesses to reopen, but the gesture from officials is almost symbolic and somewhat experimental.

Businesses that are permitted to open their doors again include bookshops, stationary shops, children’s clothes stores and some forestry services. Until now, only supermarkets and pharmacies were allowed to remain active.

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte is for the moment resisting calls to resume industrial activities.

“For the moment, any hypothesis (on that topic) is premature,” Borrelli said when asked about the possibility of resuming some production activities in the coming weeks.

“The work group is looking at it and then it will be up to the politicians.”

Some Italian regions have adopted measures that differ from those mandated by the national government.

Lombardy, the expansive region in the north which has taken the brunt of the pandemic in Italy, will not allow bookshops or stationary shops to reopen.

The region on Monday recorded another 280 dead from Covid-19, bringing its total to 10,901.

Contrary to that were the measures being adopted by the regional president of the Veneto region, Luca Zaia, who has decided to permit outdoor markets and a daily slot for people to leave their houses to exercise. They will, however, have to wear masks and gloves.

Meanwhile, a new team of 21 Cuban doctors and 16 nurses arrived in Italy Monday to help in the campaign against the virus at a field hospital in Turin.

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