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Italy registers 63,927 coronavirus cases, day-to-day slowdown of deaths

(Xinhua)    08:25, March 24, 2020

Photo taken on March 23, 2020 shows the almost-empty Roma Termini railway station in Rome, Italy. The COVID-19 pandemic had claimed 6,077 lives in locked down Italy by Monday, with the cumulative number of confirmed cases reaching 63,927, according to new figures released by the Civil Protection Department. (Photo by Augusto Casasoli/Xinhua)

ROME, March 23 (Xinhua) -- A total of 63,927 coronavirus cases have been assessed in Italy since the pandemic broke out in its northern regions on Feb. 21, the Civil Protection Department managing the COVID-19 emergency said on Monday.

The number of total infections grew by 4,789, or 8 percent from 59,138 cases recorded on Sunday. Further 601 fatalities were also registered on Monday, with the death toll reaching 6,077. The daily fatality figure dropped from Sunday's 651 and Saturday's 793.

Although still upward, the figures showed the daily rise in both the number of people testing positive and the number of deaths has been less marked for the second day in a row, Civil Protection Chief Angelo Borrelli told a press conference late Monday afternoon.

Health authorities, however, warned that it was still too early to confirm a decreasing trend in the ongoing pandemic.

"The more we have consecutive (downward) measurements, the more confident we can be," Silvio Brusaferro, president of Italy's National Health Institute (ISS), said at the press conference alongside Borrelli.

"I am looking carefully and favorably at such numbers, but I do not want yet to commit myself to saying whether this is a trend or not," he stressed, adding that this week would be crucial for evaluating the trends.

As in the previous days, the ISS chief also warned that a crucial goal for national authorities and the health system remain to be avoiding the dynamics of strong circulation of the virus seen in the northern regions "reproduced in the South."

Still on daily data, Borrelli said recoveries also kept increasing, with 408 more people added, bringing the total to 7,432.

"Of the 50,418 people who are positive, some 26,522 are currently under home isolation -- being asymptomatic or with light symptoms -- another 3,204 are in intensive care, and all the other hospitalized in ordinary wards," he specified.

Considering all statistics, the total number of assessed cases Italy reached 63,927.

Borrelli also said that Italy was benefitting from the solidarity of several countries in its fight against the COVID-19, and especially thanked "the Russian Federation, the People's Republic of China, France, and Germany, all of which have provided us with additional staff and means against the epidemic."

Among countries that have sent medical materials and experts were also Cuba and Venezuela.

The most affected regions remained northern Lombardy (18,910 positive cases), Emilia Romagna (7,220), Veneto (4,986), and Piedmont (4,529), plus central Marche (2,358) and Tuscany (2,301), data showed.

Lombardy's regional authorities also reported slight positive signals on Monday, yet sounding cautious as well.

"We count 28,761 positive people today, with a daily increase of 1,555 cases, while the previous daily rise in infections was of 1,691," Lombardy's Welfare Councillor Giulio Gallera told a press conference broadcast live on social media and TV networks from Milan.

Policemen check passengers' documents at Roma Termini railway station in Rome, Italy, on March 23, 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic had claimed 6,077 lives in locked down Italy by Monday, with the cumulative number of confirmed cases reaching 63,927, according to new figures released by the Civil Protection Department. (Photo by Augusto Casasoli/Xinhua)

"Another beautiful signal concerns the number of COVID-19 patients hospitalized (in ordinary wards), which is now 9,266, against 9,439 in the previous day ... it is the first time," Gallera stressed.

Echoing the warning from Brusaferro, Gallera said it was still too early to claim the pandemic was really slowing down, and he strongly appealed to people to keep respecting all restrictions implemented since a national lockdown went into effect on March 10.

In related daily news, Health Minister Roberto Speranza said the Italian Medicines Agency (AIFA) approved the testing of the antiviral drug known as Avigan against the COVID-19, local media reported.

"The agency's Secretary General told me that -- following a first analysis of available data on Avigan, the (AIFA) technical-scientific committee is developing a testing and research program to assess the impact of the drug in the initial phases of the disease," Ansa news agency quoted the minister as saying.

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(Web editor: Liang Jun, Bianji)

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