Italy's death toll rises again by 566 to 20,465

Italy’s death toll rises again by 566 to 20,465 but cases slow to lowest in a week – the day before country prepares to reopen small shops and plans to begin construction work again

  • The 566 deaths reported by civil protection service take its fatalities to 20,465
  • The Mediterranean country is officially second in the world behind United States
  • The rise in new infections dropped to a new low of just two percent – 3,153 cases
  • Patients receiving intensive care dropped from peak of 4,068 on April 3 to 3,260

Italy’s death toll from the coronavirus has topped 20,000 but its number of critically ill patients dropped for the tenth successive day.

The 566 new deaths reported by the civil protection service take the country’s fatalities total to 20,465 – officially second in the world behind the US.

The drop in patients receiving intensive care from a peak of 4,068 on April 3 to 3,260 on Monday confirmed a general improvement in the Covid-19 trends there.

The rise in new infections also dropped to a new low of just two per cent. The Mediterranean country last week extended its national lockdown until May 3.

The decision has been backed by doctors but opposed by businesses that doubt their ability to survive three more weeks of inactivity.   

The 566 new deaths reported by the civil protection service take Italy’s fatalities total to 20,465 – officially second in the world behind the United States. Pictured: A medical worker in an intensive care unit in Rome on Saturday

Bookshops, stationery shops and stores selling children’s clothes will be allowed to open their doors on Tuesday, the government says.  

The wider containment measures, which began on March 9, will continue until at least May 3.

But the token loosening may reflect a desire to combat what officials have called the ‘psychological’ impact of the lockdown.

Italy’s daily death toll fell to its lowest (431) since March 19 yesterday, while the number of new infections has similarly stalled.

The very limited exceptions to the lockdown – allowing people to buy books, stationery and children’s clothes – were announced last Friday. 

The drop in patients receiving intensive care from a peak of 4,068 on April 3 to 3,260 on Monday confirmed a general improvement in Italy’s Covid-19 trends. A patient in Bologna’s Sant’Orsola hospital yesterday

The slightly loosened restrictions also include forestry and the wood industry on the list of permitted economic activities.

Prime minister Giuseppe Conte wants a wider economic restart ‘as soon as possible’ but ministers say that ‘the conditions are not yet in place’.

There is also some disagreement among regions. The governor of Lombardy says bookshops in his hard-hit region will remain closed.

But the leader of Liguria wants some construction sites to re-open, Italian media says.

Conte said the ‘signs of the epidemiological curve are encouraging’ but said it was still too early to lift the nationwide lockdown. 

Police officers direct traffic in Rome today, more than a month after Italy went into a nationwide lockdown – which is due to continue until May

He said: ‘There are clear indications that the containment measures adopted so far by the Government are bearing fruit, but precisely for this reason we cannot nullify the efforts made so far.

‘We have to make this extra effort. We must continue to respect the rules even [over Easter]. We must continue to maintain social distances.’

If Italy exits the lockdown too early ‘we would pay a very high price, in addition to the psychological and social cost,’ Conte warned.

Extending the emergency measures until May 3, he added: ‘This is a difficult but necessary decision for which I take all political responsibility.’

Roberto Fico, the president of Italy’s Chamber of Deputies, has similarly spoken of a ‘psychological’ impact of the lockdown.

‘In these days of worry and suffering, discouragement can grow and fragility can emerge and increase,’ he said, pointing people towards government-backed mental health services.  

Italy’s interior ministry is also using a phone app to help geo-locate reports of domestic of violence.

The government has also allocated €30 million (£26million) to help shelter female victims of domestic abuse.

The 431 new deaths that Italy announced yesterday marked the lowest daily figure since March 19, when the curve was still climbing.

Civil Protection Service Chief Angelo Borrelli said: ‘The pressure on our hospitals continues to ease.’

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