Italy’s New Coronavirus Cases Fall as Daily Death Toll Rises

(Bloomberg) -- Italy reported a lower number of new coronavirus cases Monday -- even as daily fatalities rose -- three days after the government extended a lockdown with only slight concessions to businesses demanding a restart of the economy.

There were 3,153 new cases, the fewest registered since April 7, compared with 4,092 a day earlier, civil protection officials said. Italy registered 566 deaths linked to the virus in the last 24 hours, compared with 431 the day before. That brought the total number of fatalities to 20,465. Recoveries reached 35,435.

Confirmed cases in the country now total 159,516. The number has risen since the government decided to ramp up testing, with the number of those assessed reaching 1.05 million Monday and more previously unreported cases being discovered. The number of patients in intensive care declined for the 10th straight day.

“We’re still in Phase 1, for sure,” Giovanni Rezza, the head of the infectious diseases department at Rome’s national health institute, told a news conference. “We see positive signals, but the number of deaths is still high, as it reflects previous cases of contagion.”

Lockdown Extension

On Friday, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced he was extending Italy’s nationwide lockdown until May 3, rejecting pressure from businesses and opposition politicians who’ve clamored to restart the economy.

Conte held out the prospect of a gradual resumption of normal life after the lockdown is lifted, although strict health protocols would remain in force. He named Vittorio Colao, former chief executive officer of Vodafone Group Plc, to head a task force that will help map Italy’s exit from the restrictions. The country “can’t wait for the virus to disappear completely,” Conte said.

The Veneto region is easing some measures as of Tuesday, including reopening outdoor markets and allowing jogging more than 200 meters away from home, Governor Luca Zaia said on Facebook.

“We need to guarantee health safety but, at the same time, to make efforts to accelerate the re-opening,” former Italian Finance Minister Pier Carlo Padoan said in an interview to SkyTG24.

Still, schools might not restart before the summer break. Franco Locatelli, head of Italy’s public health institute, told Rai2 TV Sunday that he believes the government should consider leaving classrooms shut until the next school year.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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