Post-lockdown Italy maintains downward trend in active cases
Post-lockdown Italy maintains downward trend in active cases

Rome: Italy maintained a declining trend in active COVID-19 infections and intensive care cases, one day after it eased the national lockdown, according to the latest numbers released by the Civil Protection Department.

Health authorities registered 98,467 active infections on Tuesday, down from 99,980 a day earlier, continuing the trend since April 20, when the country reported a drop in total active infections for the first time, Xinhua news agency reported.

Tuesday also saw 2,352 additional recoveries, bringing that total to 85,231.

As 236 new deaths were reported in the past 24 hours, the pandemic has claimed 29,315 lives since the first outbreak was recorded in the northern Lombardy region.

Of those infected, 1,427 are in intensive care, down by 52 compared to Monday, and 16,270 are hospitalized in normal wards, down by 553. The rest, or 82 per cent of those who tested positive, are in isolation at home.

The total number of COVID-19 infections, fatalities and recoveries since the pandemic began has risen to 213,013.

Italy entered into a national lockdown on March 10 to contain the pandemic. The lockdown was partly lifted on Monday as the country entered into the so-called "Phase Two," involving the gradual resumption of social, economic and productive activities.

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte commented on the end of the lockdown in an interview with Affari Italiani (Italian Affairs), which he posted on Facebook on Tuesday.

"Overall, the people of Italy have shown a great sense of responsibility," the prime minister said in reference to Monday, when millions went back to work and some economic sectors were allowed to reopen.

"The resumption of manufacturing activities and construction took place in an orderly way," Conte said. "The road ahead is still long, but Italy is starting up again."

Conte also commented that in spite of its initial disregard for Italy's plight as the first European country stricken by the pandemic, "the European Union has shown it has understood the mistakes of the past."

"I am confident that both in terms of the economic response and of the battle against COVID-19, Europe will be up to this historic challenge," Conte said.

With regards to US President Donald Trump's blaming of China for the virus, Conte said that "right now we think the priority is to foster international cooperation as much as possible as an essential tool in order to defeat the virus and safeguard global health."

"Italy believes strongly in the possibility of this cooperation and is ready to make its contribution," the prime minister said.

In a report out Tuesday, National Institute of Statistics (ISTAT) said that "over the course of just five weeks", the pandemic has triggered a "sudden and vertical collapse" in the airline industry.

In Italy as of 2017, this industry had a turnover of 9.4 billion euros (US $10.2 billion) and employed about 20,000 people, while a total of 193 million passengers transited through Italy's airports in 2019 (up by 7.4 million compared to 2018), according to ISTAT.

"While the spread of COVID-19 has halted transportation almost completely, the sector that suffered the strongest impact was air passenger transport," ISTAT analysts wrote.

"The COVID-19 emergency has brutally interrupted the positive evolution of this sector, plunging it into a dramatic global crisis of unprecedented proportions over a very brief period of time," ISTAT wrote.

In March this year, 66.3 per cent of flights were cancelled, and passengers dropped by 85 per cent (from about 14 million in March 2019 to just over 2 million in March this year).

ISTAT also reported that the number of passengers arriving and departing from Italy's airports dropped from just under 460,000 on February 23 to 6,780 on March 29.

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