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Italy sees 651 new virus deaths, toll nears 5,500

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People walk past a huge billboard that shows a woman with as protective mask in the colours of an Italian flag and which reads, “All together, without fear” referring to the coronavirus campain to stay home in the city of Naples on March 22, 2020. – Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte on March 21, 2020, ordered all non-essential companies and factories to close nationwide to stem a coronavirus pandemic that has killed 4,825 people in the country in a month. “The decision taken by the government is to close down all productive activity throughout the territory that is not strictly necessary, crucial, indispensable, to guarantee us essential goods and services,” Conte said in a late-night TV address (Photo by Carlo Hermann / AFP)


Italy’s world-topping toll from the coronavirus pandemic approached 5,500 on Sunday after the Mediterranean country reported another 651 deaths.

The latest daily toll was smaller than Saturday’s record 793 fatalities but still the second-highest registered during Italy’s month-long crisis.

The number of new infections rose by 10.4 percent to 59,138.

Italy’s death toll now stands at 5,476.

“The figures announced today are lower than those for yesterday,” Italian civil protection service chief Angelo Borrelli told reporters.

“I hope and we all hope that these figures can be borne out in the coming days. But do not let your guard down.”

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Sunday’s figures suggest that strict containment measures imposed around the northern epicentre of the crisis near Milan on March 8 might be starting to bear fruit.

Milan’s Lombardy region reported just 30.4 percent of the new infections on Sunday.

It had been reporting about two-thirds of Italy’s coronavirus deaths throughout the crisis.

The region of 10 million officially registered 55.5 percent of Sunday’s COVID-19 deaths.

“We must not get too enthusiastic or over-interpret things,” Italian government scientific committee expert Franco Locatelli said.

But “it is a sign that we welcome positively,” he said.

The pandemic has put northern Italy’s world-class healthcare system under massive strain.

Sunday’s figures showed the number of patients receiving intensive care rising above 3,000 for the first time.

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