Rome, Mar 24 (efe-epa).- The rate of coronavirus infections in Italy has fallen for the third day in a row, health officials said Tuesday, indicating that draconian lockdown measures imposed at the start of the month are helping to stem the spread of the deadly disease.
Confirmed cases of the virus since the outbreak began in Italy on 31 January rose to 69,176, an 8 percent increase compared to Monday, the chief of Italy’s Civil Protection Agency, Angelo Borrelli, said at a daily press conference.
It’s the slowest rise since the start of the outbreak in the country, leading to hopes that Italy has overcome the peak of the crisis amid the trend of falling new infections.
Although the rate of infections fell for a third consecutive day, the number of deaths, which had started falling in recent days, jumped to 743 from 601, the second-highest single-day death toll of the outbreak in Italy. A total of 8,326 people have fully recovered.
Despite the jump in deaths, the slowing rate of infection is a major boost to authorities’ nationwide restrictions, which has seen the large majority of Italians confined to their homes and only businesses deemed essential to fighting the crisis allowed to open.
All businesses except those offering basic necessities have been shut, as well as schools and universities, entertainment venues, and sporting events.
But those measures, which were extended this week, are likely to be toughened even further, with the penalty for breaking the curfew set to rise to a maximum of 3,000 euro ($3,227), a significant increase from 206 euro.
Officials will feel that those restrictions and penalties will have been justified if the rate of new infections continues to fall as the week progresses.
While the situation appears to be stabilizing in Italy, which has registered the most deaths from the disease in the world and the highest number of infections outside of China, where the virus originated, the pandemic has continued to spread exponentially with alarming speed elsewhere.
According to data provided by the John Hopkins University, global cases of coronavirus surpassed 400,000 on Tuesday, just two days after the 300,000 mark was passed.
On Monday, the World Health Organisation’s director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus had illustrated the acceleration of the outbreak, pointing out that “it took 67 days from the first reported case to reach 100,000 cases, 11 days for the second 100,000 cases, and just four days for the third 100,000 cases.” EFE-EPA