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HEALTH

Italy reports a slight drop in coronavirus deaths and cases

Italy's coronavirus infection rate slowed for a fourth successive day on Wednesday, and the the total number of deaths also dropped, though still remained high at 683.

Italy reports a slight drop in coronavirus deaths and cases
Photo: AFP

This brought the total number of deceased to 7,503, according to the latest data from Italy's Department of Civil Protection.

There were 5,210 new cases confirmed, slightly fewer than Tuesday's 5,249.

The total number of cases detected in Italy since the outbreak began has now passed 74,000

Italy registered fewer cases on Wednesday than the US (5,797) or Spain (5,552) according to the latest data.

Some 9,000 people in Italy who had been infected with the virus have now recovered  figures showed.

33 of the deceased are doctors, and a total of 5,000 Italian health workers have now been infected, according to data from Italy's Higher Health Institute.

Nearly 4,500 of the deaths were in the worst-hit region of Lombardy alone, and there have been more than 1,000 in Emilia-Romagna.

The majority of infections have also been in Lombardy, where the first cases of community transmission were recorded in late February, and in other northern regions

The world is watching closely for evidence that the numbers of cases and deaths in Italy are dropping and that nationwide quarantine measures taken just over two weeks ago have worked as hoped.

There were high hopes after the number of fatalities fell for two consecutive days on Sunday and Monday. But Tuesday's daily toll was the second-highest recorded in Italy since the crisis began.

However, while th number of cases continues to rise daily, it has now been slowing down for four days in a row.

However, few scientists expect Italy's numbers – if they really are dropping – to follow a steady downward line.

Experts have predicted the number of cases will peak in Italy at some point from March 23 onwards – perhaps in early April – though many point out that regional variations and other factors mean this is very difficult to predict.

Civil protection head Angelo Borrelli, who usually gives the updates every day at 6pm, was not present to give the numbers on Wednesday as he had reportedly been hospitalised with a fever.

Borrelli is awaiting the result of a second coronavirus swab test, after he had a negative test result a few days ago, Italian media reports.

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TRAVEL NEWS

Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

The mandatory EU-wide mask requirement for air travel is set to be dropped from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still require passengers to wear masks on some or all flights

Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

Europe-wide facemask rules on flights are set to be ditched as early as next week in light of new recommendations from health and air safety experts.

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) dropped recommendations for mandatory mask-wearing in airports and during flights in updated Covid-19 safety measures for travel issued on Wednesday, May 11th.

The new rules are expected to be rolled out from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still continue to require the wearing of masks on some or all of flights. And the updated health safety measures still say that wearing a face mask remains one of the best ways to protect against the transmission of the virus.

The joint EASA/ECDC statement reminded travellers that masks may still be required on flights to destinations in certain countries that still require the wearing of masks on public transport and in transport hubs.

It also recommends that vulnerable passengers should continue to wear a face mask regardless of the rules, ideally an FFP2/N95/KN95 type mask which offers a higher level of protection than a standard surgical mask.

“From next week, face masks will no longer need to be mandatory in air travel in all cases, broadly aligning with the changing requirements of national authorities across Europe for public transport,” EASA executive director Patrick Ky said in the statement. 

“For passengers and air crews, this is a big step forward in the normalisation of air travel. Passengers should however behave responsibly and respect the choices of others around them. And a passenger who is coughing and sneezing should strongly consider wearing a face mask, for the reassurance of those seated nearby.”  

ECDC director Andrea Ammon added: “The development and continuous updates to the Aviation Health Safety Protocol in light of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic have given travellers and aviation personnel better knowledge of the risks of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and its variants. 

“While risks do remain, we have seen that non-pharmaceutical interventions and vaccines have allowed our lives to begin to return to normal. 

“While mandatory mask-wearing in all situations is no longer recommended, it is important to be mindful that together with physical distancing and good hand hygiene it is one of the best methods of reducing transmission. 

“The rules and requirements of departure and destination states should be respected and applied consistently, and travel operators should take care to inform passengers of any required measures in a timely manner.”

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