World, Europe, Latest on coronavirus outbreak

COVID-19: Italy reports 636 new deaths, contagion slows

Government readies new economic measures aimed at helping businesses, investors cope with fallout from pandemic

Giada Zampano   | 06.04.2020
COVID-19: Italy reports 636 new deaths, contagion slows

ROME

Italy on Monday reported 636 more deaths from the novel coronavirus, bringing the total number of fatalities to 16,523 -- the highest in the world -- but registering a clear slowdown in the pace of contagions.

The slowing trend reported in the rise of infections – down from the double-digit increases in the early stages of the outbreak – seems to be supporting the government's hopes that the peak of the contagion has reached.

Current infections grew 2% from Sunday to reach 93,187 – the slowest rise in over a week and one of the lowest since the start of the outbreak. The number of recovered people also continued to surge, climbing to 22,837, while the number of intensive care patients fell for the third consecutive day.

The epicenter of the Italian outbreak remains the northern Lombardy region, which now counts 9,202 victims.

In its ongoing battle to contain the outbreak, the Italian government has extended an almost-total lockdown -- which halted most production and business activities in Italy -- until at least April 13.

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has repeatedly said the government would start softening the measures only when scientists approve such a move, but he did not provide a specific date.

The government on Monday met to approve a new package of measures aimed at helping businesses and investors cope with the heavy fallout from the pandemic, which risks plunging the Italian fragile economy into a new, painful recession. 

The new emergency package is expected to include measures granting new liquidity and bank loans – worth up to €400 billion ($432 billion) – to businesses and companies damaged by the outbreak and the lockdown. 

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