People walk near the Colosseum in Rome, Italy, March 8, 2020. A total of 6,387 people have tested positive for the coronavirus in Italy since the epidemic first broke out here over two weeks ago, the Civil Protection Department said Sunday. In addition, 366 people have died and 622 recovered, Civil Protection Department Chief Angelo Borrelli told reporters at a televised press conference. (Photo by Alberto Lingria/Xinhua)
People walk near the Colosseum in Rome, Italy, March 8, 2020. A total of 6,387 people have tested positive for the coronavirus in Italy since the epidemic first broke out here over two weeks ago, the Civil Protection Department said Sunday. In addition, 366 people have died and 622 recovered, Civil Protection Department Chief Angelo Borrelli told reporters at a televised press conference. (Photo by Alberto Lingria/Xinhua)

The daily number of patients who recovered from COVID-19 on Thursday surpassed new infections for the first time in Italy since the pandemic began in the country’s northern region in late February, according to the latest numbers released by the country’s Civil Protection Department.

The death toll on Thursday was 464, bringing the nationwide fatalities to 25,549 since the pandemic first broke out in the northern Lombardy region on Feb. 21.

Among these fatalities were 148 doctors, according to the National Federation of Orders of Surgeons and Dentists (FNOMCeO), which is keeping a running tally of doctors who lost their lives in the battle against the virus.

There were 2,646 new coronavirus infections and 3,033 additional recoveries compared to Wednesday, bringing the nationwide totals to 106,848 and 57,576, respectively.

“For the first time, the number of recoveries has outstripped the number of new infections in our country,” Civil Protection Department Chief Angelo Borrelli told a televised press conference.

Of those infected, 2,267 are in intensive care — down by 117 compared to Wednesday, and 22,871 are hospitalized — down by 934. The rest, or 76 percent of those who tested positive, are in isolation at home.

The total number of active infections, fatalities and recoveries since late February rose to 189,973 cases as of Thursday.

CONSTANT DAILY FALL IN ICUS

Borrelli also said Italians have so far donated over 129 million euros to the Civil Protection Department’s coronavirus emergency fund, of which over 71 million euros have been spent to purchase ventilators and individual protection kits.

Also present at the press conference was National Health Council (CSS) Director Franco Locatelli, who said that since April 5 “there has been a decrease in the number of hospitalized patients and that since April 3 there has been a constant daily decrease in the number of intensive care patients.”

“On April 3, we had over 4,000 intensive care patients, today there are 2,267,” Locatelli pointed out.

“Today is also the fourth consecutive day in which the number of positive cases has dropped,” he added.

Locatelli went on to talk about what he called “the virtuous competition to identify an effective vaccine” against the new coronavirus.

“Today we have evidence that two potential vaccines in the United States, one in the UK, one in Germany and one in China are in an advanced phase of development,” Locatelli said.

“This does not mean the imminent marketing (of the vaccines), but it does mean that vaccines able to stimulate a protective immunological response are being developed,” he specified, adding that “it will be some months” before a vaccine or vaccines can be marketed to the public.

However, “it is absolutely reassuring that large-scale research groups around the world are committed” to finding the vaccine, Locatelli said.

PREPARING FOR PHASE TWO

The new Civil Protection Department data came 10 days ahead of the May 3 expiration of the current national lockdown, which went into effect on March 10.

As Italy prepares for what the government is calling Phase Two of the emergency — a gradual resumption of economic activities and an easing of lockdown measures, ISTAT national statistics agency released dire foreign trade numbers for the Mediterranean country, where many industries rely heavily on exports.

In March, exports to non-European Union (EU) countries decreased by 12.7 percent and imports decreased by 19.8 percent compared to the same month of the previous year, ISTAT report said on Thursday.

The “strong contraction of exports towards non-EU countries … reflects the economic effects of the COVID-19 emergency and the containment measures adopted in our country and in the principal destination countries,” ISTAT analysts wrote.

In an April 21 briefing to parliament, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said that “the recession caused by the measures necessary to contain the virus will have a profound and persistent impact on our entire economy.”

He cited “recent International Monetary Fund (IMF) forecasts that estimate our GDP will fall by 9.1 percent in 2020, to be followed by growth of 4.8 percent in 2021.”

In order to save Italy’s industrial, manufacturing and productive fabric, Conte said he is requesting from parliament a mandate to allocate another 50 billion euros in deficit spending in this year’s budget, “in addition to the 25 billion euros already allocated, for an overall package of at least 75 billion euros.”

The money will be spent on hiring more health care, civil protection, and security forces personnel, beefing up welfare benefits for full-time and self-employed workers, and supporting small and medium enterprises (SMEs) as well as “sectors that have been particularly stricken by the virus containment measures,” Conte said. Enditem

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