Italy’s virus deaths drop to 174 on eve of lockdown easing

Italy’s daily COVID-19 death toll fell to the lowest level in nearly two months on Sunday, the eve of the first easing of a strict novel coronavirus lockdown.

The death tally rose by 174 to 28,884, the Civil Protection Agency said in its daily bulletin.

The last time daily fatalities were below that figure was on March 10, with 168 deaths.

March 10 was also the start date of the lockdown.

The total number of infections rose by a record-low 0.66 per cent, to 210,717; active cases dropped by more than 500, to 100,179; and intensive care patients fell by 38 to 1,501.

On Monday, the construction and manufacturing sectors are resuming activities, and bars and restaurants can reopen, but only for takeaway service.

Some were already active for home deliveries.

Some 4.5 million people are estimated to be returning to work.

Mask-wearing in enclosed public spaces, including public transport, is becoming compulsory.

“The situation has definitely improved compared to the past but we are not still out of the epidemic, so the utmost caution is needed,” Health Minister Roberto Speranza told RAI public television.

People will be allowed to do more outdoor exercise, and visit their loved ones – but there has been confusion on who falls under that category.

The government eventually signalled that people can see their partners, relatives, but not close friends, as initially suggested by a junior health minister.

More confusion is coming from some regions seeking faster lockdown exit plans.

The central government has threatened legal action against them.

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