Italy Flattens the Curve as Daily Rise in Coronavirus Cases Falls to Lowest Rate

Italy is Europe's epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, with more than 97,600 cases of COVID-19, including 10,779 deaths, according to the latest figures released Sunday by the Italian ministry.

However, the outbreak in Italy has shown signs of slowing, with the lowest daily rise in infections since officials began tracking cases after the country's first reported death on February 21, authorities confirmed on Sunday.

The virus, which was first detected in the city of Wuhan in China's Hubei province, has spread to more than 741,000 people, 82,200 of whom are in China. Over 143,500 cases are in the U.S., which now has more confirmed cases than any other country, according to the latest figures from Johns Hopkins University.

Over 156,800 people have recovered from infection, including nearly 76,000 in China, while more than 35,000 people have died. Beijing says the outbreak has been largely contained in China, with more cases reported outside the country than within.

While Italy continues to be battered with new cases, including 756 new deaths reported on Sunday, the daily rise in infections has reportedly slowed to 5.6 percent since February 21, Italian officials confirmed.

The country also saw its lowest daily rise in new cases since Wednesday, reporting a total number of 97,689 confirmed cases on Sunday, up from 92,472 previously, a 5,217 increase.

Italian officials reported on Sunday that 13,030 patients had fully recovered from COVID-19, while 3,906 being treated in intensive care.

It's worth noting that most Italian media cite "change in active cases" as their number of new cases in their reporting. The "change in active cases" is actually devised by the following formula: The number of newly infected cases minus the number of new deaths minus the number of new recoveries, the Protezione Civile (Italian civil protection agency) clarified at a press conference earlier this month. So the actual number of new cases in the country may be higher than the number reported as "newly infected" by Italian media.

Virus mask,Spanish Steps, Rome, Italy, March 2020
A man wearing a protection mask walks by the Spanish Steps at a deserted Piazza di Spagna in central Rome on March 12, 2020. Healthy individuals only need to wear a mask if taking care of a sick person, the World Health Organization (WHO) advises. Getty Images

A virologist from the University of Milan, Fabrizio Pregliasco, told Italy's Il Corriere della Sera newspaper: "We are witnessing a slowdown [of the outbreak]."

"It is not plateau yet, but it is a good sign," he added.

The current lockdown in place across the country was due to officially end on April 3 but it is likely to be extended. A final decision is expected to be made in the coming days.

"The measures expiring on April 3 will inevitably be extended," regional affairs minister, Francesco Boccia, told Italy's Sky TG24 television.

"I think that, at the moment, talking about re-opening is inappropriate and irresponsible," he added.

The graphic below, provided by Statista, illustrates the spread of COVID-19 across the globe.

number of worldwide coronavirus cases
This chart shows the number of confirmed novel coronavirus cases worldwide as of Monday at 8:45 a.m. Statista

Data on COVID-19 cases is from Johns Hopkins University unless otherwise stated.

World Health Organization advice for avoiding spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19)

Hygiene advice

  • Clean hands frequently with soap and water, or alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Wash hands after coughing or sneezing; when caring for the sick; before, during and after food preparation; before eating; after using the toilet; when hands are visibly dirty; and after handling animals or waste.
  • Maintain at least 1 meter (3 feet) distance from anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoid touching your hands, nose and mouth. Do not spit in public.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or bent elbow when coughing or sneezing. Discard the tissue immediately and clean your hands.

Medical advice

  • Avoid close contact with others if you have any symptoms.
  • Stay at home if you feel unwell, even with mild symptoms such as headache and runny nose, to avoid potential spread of the disease to medical facilities and other people.
  • If you develop serious symptoms (fever, cough, difficulty breathing) seek medical care early and contact local health authorities in advance.
  • Note any recent contact with others and travel details to provide to authorities who can trace and prevent spread of the disease.
  • Stay up to date on COVID-19 developments issued by health authorities and follow their guidance.

Mask and glove usage

  • Healthy individuals only need to wear a mask if taking care of a sick person.
    Wear a mask if you are coughing or sneezing.
  • Masks are effective when used in combination with frequent hand cleaning.
  • Do not touch the mask while wearing it. Clean hands if you touch the mask.
  • Learn how to properly put on, remove and dispose of masks. Clean hands after disposing of the mask.
  • Do not reuse single-use masks.
  • Regularly washing bare hands is more effective against catching COVID-19 than wearing rubber gloves.
  • The COVID-19 virus can still be picked up on rubber gloves and transmitted by touching your face.

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