Italy has reported 482 deaths from Coronavirus, its lowest daily figure since April 12, as the country’s total rose to 23,227.
The number of new cases identified also fell by two to give a rise of 3,491, bringing the total to 175,925. The number of people in intensive care dropped by 79 to 2,733. Almost half this number are in Lombardy, the epicentre of the country’s outbreak.
This plateau is down considerably from peaks reached around the end of March, but the downtrend has not proceeded as was widely hoped.
A further 2,200 people have also recovered, bringing the total to 44,927. A further 61,725 tests for coronavirus were carried out by Italy today, bringing the total completed to 1,305,833.
Italy has been under lockdown longer than any other European country, after a nationwide quarantine was imposed on March 9.
Officials have spoken of a ‘phase two’ in which Italy learns to ‘live with the virus’ until a vaccine is developed, which is likely to be months away at least.
A limited number of book and baby clothes shops were allowed to re-open this week alongside some agricultural businesses as the country experiments with re-opening as the shutdown remains in place.
It joined 12 other countries today in calling for greater global cooperation to lessen the economic impact of the pandemic.
‘It is vital that we work together to save lives and livelihoods,’ they said.
The group, which also includes Britain, France, Indonesia, Mexico, Morocco, Peru, South Korea, Singapore and Turkey, said it was committed to ‘work with all countries to coordinate on public health, travel, trade, economic and financial measures in order to minimise disruptions and recover stronger’.
The countries emphasised the need to maintain ‘air, land and marine transportation links’ to ensure the continued flow of goods including medical equipment and aid, and the return home of travellers.
Italy has been hoping to use a smartphone app to held identify new outbreaks once the quarantine is lifted.
Coronavirus commissioner Domenico Arcuri signed a decree late on Thursday awarding the app contract to a Milan-based startup called Bending Spoons.
Arcuri’s decree states that free app must preserve users’ anonymity and not track location. Instead, it will use bluetooth to log the phone’s movements.
The EU has recommended tracking apps as part of a plan unveiled on Wednesday to help countries ease restrictions.
Countries such as South Korea and Israel have used apps to help people determine whether they came close to someone infected with the virus.
However, technology experts warn that such apps are not foolproof because bluetooth signals work best in open spaces.
A handful of shops have been allowed to re-open already in Italy, including bookshops and stationery shops.
The region of Lombardy also plans to start conducting immunity tests next week in the hope of issuing ‘licences’ to people found to be resistant.
Lombardy has been by far the worst-affected region in Italy, piling up more cases and deaths than many countries have done.
Health care workers will be first in line for Lombardy’s antibody tests but the regional government hopes to expand the tests to the general public.
The provinces of Bergamo, Brescia, Cremona and Lodi will have particular priority after their health systems were overwhelmed by the crisis.
Nearly 17,000 health care workers have been infected with coronavirus in Italy, more than two-thirds of them women, the country’s public health institute said today.
The figure accounts for around 10 per cent of Italy’s officially registered infections.
The ISS public health institute did not report fatality figures, but a study released Thursday by a medical federation said that Covid-19 has killed 125 doctors in Italy.
Reports say that at least 34 nurses have also died of the disease.
Several Italian doctors have expressed fears that infected medics may have been unwittingly spreading the disease to their patients in the early weeks of the outbreak.
Immunity tests are seen as crucial to ending the global lockdown, but ministers in Britain and Germany have said they are not yet reliable enough.
UK health secretary Matt Hancock says that none of the 17.5million tests which Britain wanted to order have been shown to work.
‘We’re getting the test results through every day, I was looking at some last night. But we still don’t have any that are good enough,’ he said earlier this month.