Europe, Latest on coronavirus outbreak

Italy reports 482 new virus victims, death rate drops

Infection rate stabilization confirmed as regions clash on how to plan for recovery phase from coronavirus pandemic

Giada Zampano   | 18.04.2020
Italy reports 482 new virus victims, death rate drops

ROME 

Italy on Saturday reported 482 additional deaths from the novel coronavirus -- lower than the previous day -- bringing the total number of fatalities to 23,227 and confirming a slowdown in the death rate.

According to the latest data released by the Italian Civil Protection Department, infections grew at a slightly faster rate of 0.7% from Friday to reach 107,771.

Recoveries climbed to 44,927, while the number of intensive care patients continued a more than two-week drop, further easing pressure on Italy's overstretched healthcare system.

The epicenter of the Italian outbreak remains the northern Lombardy region, which now counts 12,050 fatalities -- more than half of the total.

The government continues to struggle with planning the country's recovery and protecting its fragile economy, which faces a drop in national output of up to 9% in 2020.

As a few shops reopened following a partial loosening of lockdown rules, the debate on how to handle the next phase of the coronavirus pandemic has heated up.

Friction between regional governors and the central government continues to intensify as regions have also begun squabbling among each other.

As the northern Lombardy and Veneto regions started to plan possible re-openings of productive activities even before the end of the lockdown on May 3, the southern Campania region threatened to "close it borders" to northerners to avoid risks of a new contagion.

The government has pledged to meet with local authorities soon to start planning the so-called phase two of the emergency and listen to their requests.

The novel coronavirus has spread to 185 countries and regions since emerging in China last December, with the U.S. and Europe now the hardest-hit areas in the world.

More than 2.27 million cases have been reported worldwide, with the death toll over 156,000 and almost 580,000 recoveries, according to data compiled by the U.S.-based Johns Hopkins University.

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