Italy, brought to its knees by the scourge of the coronavirus, on Monday recorded a second consecutive decline in the increase in deaths and positive cases, fueling the cautious hope of a slowdown of the pandemic even if the peninsula has passed the 6,000 dead.
“It is not yet the moment to declare victory, but we see a light at the end of the tunnel,” commented with a shy smile Giulio Gallera, responsible for Health within the regional government of Lombardy (North), the region the most affected on the peninsula with 28,761 cases and 3,776 deaths.
According to the national balance sheet released on Monday evening, the number of new cases dropped to 4,789, compared to 6,557 on Saturday. It reports 601 new deaths linked to the coronavirus, or 6,077 since the start of the epidemic.
“Do not let your guard down”
At a press conference, the president of the Higher Institute of Health (ISS) Silvio Brusaferro also avoided any triumphalism: “I examine the figures carefully and favorably, but I prefer do not go ahead and confirm or not that there is a downward trend.
“We are living in crucial days. Be careful not to let your guard down, ”warned Health Minister Roberto Speranza.
To increase the country’s chances of getting out of the pandemic as quickly as possible, the government further extended the containment measures by decree on Monday, notably shutting down all non-essential production industries and now prohibiting Italians from leaving their own municipality, except in the case of “absolute emergency” or for “health reason”. The omnipresent law enforcement agencies have also stepped up controls, in particular of those who wish to go to their second home, which is now strictly prohibited.
Italians approve restrictions
The objective of this new text, the third in two weeks, is to limit the circulation of people as much as possible, especially between the North and the South as was the case on the weekend of March 7 and 8 after the decision to place 15 million Northerners in quarantine.
Thousands of people working in the North had then rushed to the stations to join their relatives in Campania (Naples region) or in Puglia (the “heel” of the boot), contributing to the spread of the virus in these regions less well equipped in terms of health.
The vast majority of Italians now seem to accept and respect the restrictive measures as shown by the deserted streets of the main Italian cities from Milan to Naples, via Rome and Florence, far from the crowds observed two weeks ago on the beaches or in the parks.
According to a survey published by the daily La Repubblica, 94% of those questioned consider the measures adopted by the executive to be “positive”, even “very positive”, from the closure of schools to the cessation of commercial activities, including limitation of the movement of people. In addition, for 46% of them, Italy is doing better than other European countries in the face of this historic crisis.
In Trastevere, a picturesque district in the heart of Rome, the customers of a mini-supermarket complied graciously on Monday with the safety instructions, respecting the distances between them and putting on plastic gloves distributed at the entrance. Most were wearing masks, said an AFP journalist.
Another reason for hope: the Italian patient number 1, Mattia, 39, who had contaminated his pregnant wife, a friend, as well as his doctors, finally left the hospital on Monday. It also infected medical staff at Codogno hospital, the town near Milan which had become the main focus of the epidemic in Italy, as well as patients and their entourage.
“It is possible to cure this disease, but you have to stay at home, prevention is essential. I was lucky, I was treated, but now it may no longer be possible, ”he testified on Facebook.