Is Italy Still on Lockdown? Country Reopens Some Stores After Recording Lowest Increase in Daily Deaths Since March

The novel coronavirus outbreak in Italy, which has reported over 20,400 deaths, as of Tuesday, saw its lowest daily death count since March 19, with 431 new fatalities on Sunday, according to the latest figures from Johns Hopkins University.

Italy has been in lockdown from March 9 and will continue to be until May 3, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte confirmed last week. However, a few businesses, including shops selling books, stationery and children's clothing, will be allowed to resume operations from Tuesday. Strict rules on hygiene and the number of customers hosted will apply for all shops allowed to reopen, while factories will remain closed.

"We need to pick sectors that can restart their activity. If scientists confirm it, we might begin to relax some measures already by the end of this month [April]," Conte told the BBC last week.

Some of the worst-hit regions, such as Lombardy and other parts of the north, will keep their lockdown measures in place for longer. Parts of the Emilia-Romagna region that have been worst-hit by the outbreak will also remain in lockdown.

Officials in the Veneto region, whose capital is Venice, are reportedly discussing a "soft lockdown." Bookshops and clothes stores are allowed to open two days a week and a ban on exercising more than 656 feet (200 meters) away from home has been lifted. But locals are required to wear a mask and gloves when they leave their homes, the governor of the Veneto region, Luca Zaia, confirmed.

The pace of the outbreak in Italy has shown signs of slowing down in recent days. Last week, there were 542 deaths on Wednesday, a drop from 604 the previous day. The number of patients in intensive care fell from 3,792 on Tuesday to 3,693 on Wednesday, which marked its fifth daily decline in row, Reuters reported.

Last Sunday, the country recorded 525 new deaths, the smallest rise since mid-February, the country's civil protection department confirmed.

The government was said to be developing a five-point plan for reopening up businesses in stages, while several mitigation measures are still maintained, Italy's Corriere della Sera newspaper reported.

Via Borgognona, Rome, Italy, April 2020
A view of the Via Borgognona on April 1, 2020 in Rome, Italy. Healthy individuals only need to wear a mask if taking care of a sick person, the World Health Organizations (WHO) advises. Getty Images

Under the new plan, residents would be required to wear face masks at work and remain six feet apart in public at all times. Those showing the slightest of COVID-19 virus symptoms would need to immediately report to health officials and be isolated for 14 days. Italy is also reportedly planning to build more hospitals dedicated to COVID-19 virus patients.

Conte was also said to be looking to secure tens of thousands of certified blood test kits to ascertain how many in the country have developed antibodies. Those who have developed antibodies may have immunity and be allowed to work, AFP reports.

The COVID-19 virus, which was first reported in Wuhan, China, has infected more than 1.9 million people across the globe, including more than 159,500 in Italy. More than 458,500 have recovered, while nearly 120,000 have died, as of Tuesday.

The graphic below, provided by Statista, illustrates the global spread of the COVID-19 virus outbreak.

global COVID-19 virus cases, April 14, 2020
The spread of the COVID-19 virus outbreak across the globe. Statista

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

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Advice on Using Face Coverings to Slow Spread of COVID-19

  • CDC recommends wearing a cloth face covering in public where social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.
  • A simple cloth face covering can help slow the spread of the virus by those infected and by those who do not exhibit symptoms.
  • Cloth face coverings can be fashioned from household items. Guides are offered by the CDC. (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/diy-cloth-face-coverings.html)
  • Cloth face coverings should be washed regularly. A washing machine will suffice.
  • Practice safe removal of face coverings by not touching eyes, nose, and mouth, and wash hands immediately after removing the covering.

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.
Is Italy Still on Lockdown? Country Reopens Some Stores After Recording Lowest Increase in Daily Deaths Since March | News