Italy reports 207,428 COVID-19 cases, cautious ahead of easing lockdown

Rome, May 2 : The coronavirus pandemic has claimed 28,236 lives in locked-down Italy, bringing the total number of infections, fatalities, and recoveries to 207,428, latest data from the country's Civil Protection Department showed on Friday.

Some 269 new fatalities were registered over the past 24 hours.

There were also 2,304 new recoveries compared to Thursday, pushing to 78,249 the total number of recoveries since the pandemic broke out in the northern Lombardy region on February 21, Xinhua reported.

The number of active infections dropped by 608 cases to a total of 100,943, according to the bulletin of the Civil Protection Department.

Of all those actively infected, some 1,578 patients are in intensive care -- a decrease of 116 compared to Thursday, and 17,569 are hospitalized with symptoms -- down by 580.

"Some 81,796 people, equal to 81 percent of all those infected, are in isolation (at home) without symptoms or with mild symptoms," the Civil Protection Department noted.

The latest data came as the country is preparing to ease the national lockdown put in place since March 10 and until May 3.

The so-called "Phase Two" of the state of emergency will see the manufacturing, construction, and wholesale sectors resume their productive activities on May 4.

The government's plan of gradual reopening would continue with retailers, museums, galleries, and libraries on May 18, and then bars, restaurants, hairdressers and beauty salons on June 1.

Any of these businesses will be allowed to restart only on condition that they are able to respect workplace safety protocols, which were outlined by the government, trade unions, and business groups together earlier this month.

Such a schedule would be subject to change in case new outbreaks occur across the country. In this perspective, the Health Ministry issued late on Thursday a decree containing the specific rules and criteria for assessing the situation in "Phase Two."

"In the absence of a vaccine or an effective drug treatment, and due to the still low level of immunity among the population, a rapid and robust resumption of the virus transmission is still possible," it stated.

The Health Ministry was therefore tasked with monitoring the epidemiological situation together with each regional government and Italy's National Health Institute (ISS).

On the base of daily data, they would evaluate whether any region (or smaller area, such a province) shows signs of an "uncontrolled and unmanageable" resurgence of COVID-19, and therefore needs to fall again under stricter containment measures.

This risk evaluation would be based on two key criteria, according to the Health Ministry.

The first aimed at "maintaining a stable number of new infections, or having a limited increase of infections that can be investigated adequately and contained with local control measures."

The second criterion was to "maintain or reduce the number of transmission cases within nursing facilities hosting vulnerable people (including hospital clusters), and to avoid any signal of overloading of the health services," the decree said.



Source: IANS