World, Europe, Latest on coronavirus outbreak

Italy: 601 new COVID-19 deaths, but pace of cases slows

Italy remains country worldwide with highest death toll, over 6,000, but daily rate of new cases is falling

Giada Zampano   | 23.03.2020
Italy: 601 new COVID-19 deaths, but pace of cases slows


Italy on Monday reported 601 new deaths from coronavirus, bringing the number of total deaths to 6,077, still the highest number in the world. 

The latest figures provided by the Italian Civil Protection Department show that the total number of cases in the country once again grew, but the slower pace seen on Sunday continued.

Current contagions rose 8% from Sunday to reach 50,418. The total number of recovered or healed patients rose to 7,432.

The epicenter of the Italian outbreak remains the northern Lombardy region, which alone counts 3,776 victims.

As Italy enters a crucial week to confirm if a reversal has been achieved in terms of new daily infections, the government continues to struggle to manage the emergency.

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte late on Saturday announced stricter lockdown rules to tackle the outbreak, bringing to a halt all the country’s non-strategic firms amid what he dubbed “the worst crisis for Italy since World War II.”

A new government decree extended the shutdown of all non-essential industrial and commercial activities until April 3.

The announcement and the handling of this drastic decision, however, drew criticism from opposition parties, business groups, and trade unions.

The government’s failure to provide details in terms of the costs and benefits of a stricter lockdown has fueled requests from the opposition to show up in parliament to debate the measures.

The energy industry is among those exempted from closure due to its strategic nature, along with food and heating supplies, among others.

The decree also singles out refining, power generating, chemicals, rubber, plastics and aluminum as sectors that would be allowed to continue operating.

The new rules also forbid people from moving out of their zone without valid reasons.

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