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Italy reports 156 new deaths, premier says 'worst is over'

Italian prime minister tells parliament peak of emergency has been overcome, but stressed 'it is not party time'

Giada Zampano   | 21.05.2020
Italy reports 156 new deaths, premier says 'worst is over'

ROME 

Italy on Thursday reported 156 more fatalities from the novel coronavirus, bringing the death toll to 32,486, as Italians mark the third week of a partial lifting of lockdown rules.

Data released by the country's Civil Protection Department confirmed the peak of the outbreak was left behind. The tally of active infections on Thursday fell again, by 1,792, placing the total at 60,960.

Meanwhile, recoveries continued to climb, reaching 134,560, as more patients left intensive care, easing pressure on Italy's overwhelmed health care system.

The epicenter of the Italian outbreak remains the northern Lombardy region, where fatalities continue to rise, reaching 15,727, almost half of the country's total deaths.

On Thursday, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte addressed the parliament on the measures taken in the so-called phase 2 of the emergency.

He said the country has overcome the worst of the coronavirus crisis, but also asked Italians to continue to stick to the rules to avoid a new spike in contagions.

"If the worst of behind us, we owe it to the citizens, who have changed their lifestyle," Conte told lawmakers.

Commenting reports and images of young people gathering at night in some Italian cities, the premier stressed that "now is not the time for parties, for movida [nightlife], for get-togethers."

Lower House speaker Roberto Fico was forced to suspend the session at some point due to repeated and loud protests by the opposition lawmakers.

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