ROME: Italy on Easter Sunday reported 431 new deaths from the novel coronavirus – the lowest increase in over three weeks – bringing the total number of fatalities to 19,899.
Current infections grew 2 per cent from Saturday to 102,253 – in line with the previous day, showing a continued stabilization of the contagion curve. The number of recovered people continued to climb to 34,211, while the number of intensive care patients dropped for the ninth consecutive day.
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The epicentre of the Italian outbreak remains the northern Lombardy region, which now counts 10,621 victims, more than half of the total.
Despite mounting pressures to start lifting some of the stringent measures – at least for Italy’s struggling businesses – Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte on Friday announced the extension of an almost total lockdown until May 3, with just a few exceptions.
Italian authorities ordered an even stronger crackdown on anyone trying to escape the lockdown over the Easter holidays, moving to second homes or for family reunions. Checks have been intensified, with police checkpoints on the main roads and highways and drones used to monitor people’s movements.
According to the latest Interior Ministry data, on the Saturday before Easter over 280,000 people were checked and more than 12,500 fined in the largely Catholic nation, up 20 per cent from Friday.
On Facebook, however, Conte expressed his gratitude for the sacrifices Italian citizens face in the common battle against the pandemic.
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“The sacrifices that each of us makes on this important Sunday are a gesture of authentic attachment to what really matters,” Conte said. “Together we will make it.”
The government is already planning how to handle the so-called “phase 2,” which will follow the emergency and will assist Italian citizens and businesses in a recovery.