Coronavirus cases reach 143,626 in Italy, pressure on hospitals decrease

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The coronavirus pandemic has claimed 18,279 lives in locked-down Italy, bringing the total number of infections, fatalities and recoveries to 143,626 by Thursday, according to the latest data released by the country’s Civil Protection Department. Thursday saw 610 new fatalities and 1,979 new recoveries, raising the total recoveries to 28,470, reports Xinhua News Agency.

Addressing a televised press conference, Civil Protection Department Chief Angelo Borrelli said 1,615 new active infections were registered compared to Wednesday, bringing the nationwide total to 96,877 infections. Of those infected, 28,399 are hospitalized, 86 fewer from the previous day; 3,605 are in intensive care, 88 fewer; and 64,873 are isolated at home, said Borrelli who also serves as extraordinary commissioner for the coronavirus emergency. According to Borrelli, the numbers in the last days confirmed that pressure on the national health system, and especially on hospitals in the most affected regions — some northern and central areas of the country — was decreasing.

“The past five days, four — including today — have ended with fewer patients hospitalized compared to the previous day,” Franco Locatelli, president of Italy’s Higher Health Council, told reporters at the same press conference. “As for the number of patients admitted to intensive care, five days out of last five ended up with a drop compared to the previous day, and this proves the reduction in the pressure on hospitals mentioned by the commissioner,” the expert stressed.  As of Thursday, some 105 doctors were among the victims of the pandemic, according to fresh data provided by Italy’s National Federation of Orders of Surgeons and Dentists (FNOMCeO). That is in addition to more than 30 nurses and other medical staff who have died.

According to information from the High Institute of Health, more than 13,500 health workers have been infected with the coronavirus. According to FNOMCeO President Filippo Anelli, the list of deceased doctors includes several who came out of retirement to help fight the spread of the virus. “A doctor never stops being a doctor,” Anelli said in a statement. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte’s cabinet was considering whether to extend by 14 more days the current nationwide lockdown which expires on April 13, according to Ansa news agency, citing qualified sources.

However, no official announcement was made by authorities, and the decision would, as always, be up to the central government only, on the base of recommendations from the Technical and Scientific Committee. Speaking to media lately, Conte has explained several times on a possible relaxation of current measures  the shift to a so-called “phase two” of the emergency — would eventually be decided gradually, and starting with some business activities only. In order to orderly planning such step, Conte on Thursday discussed via video conference with representatives of the country’s main workers unions CGIL, CISL, and UIL and the largest industrial association Confindustria.

In related news, after accompanying to northern Milan city 86 volunteer doctors from the southern regions, Minister of Regional Affairs Francesco Boccia said that the “phase two” would be implemented only after all hospitals and the whole country are secured. “No region has asked me to reopen (business activities) ahead of others,” Boccia told local media in a press conference in Milan.  “When it will be decided to turn switches back on, the path will be slow and gradual … and I think it is safe to say this will be done differently from territory to territory,” he added.

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