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HEALTH

Italy’s coronavirus deaths rise slightly, but new cases continue to slow

Italy reported more than 800 deaths on Monday, yet new cases of coronavirus continue to show signs of slowing.

Italy's coronavirus deaths rise slightly, but new cases continue to slow
Medical staff at a dedicated COVID-19 hospital in northern Italy. Photo: Piero Cruciatti/AFP

Another 812 people died since contracting the new coronavirus, according to the latest daily figures from Italy's Civil Protection department on Monday, an increase from 756 on Sunday.

But while deaths were up, the number of new infections continued to slow. Another 4,050 cases were confirmed on Monday, compared to 5,217 on Sunday and 5,974 on Saturday.

In total, Italy has confirmed 101,739 cases of coronavirus since the outbreak began, 11,591 of them fatal.

Another 14,620 people have recovered, including 1,590 in the past 24 hours – the highest number of recoveries in a single day since the outbreak began.

ANALYSIS: Five reasons why the coronavirus hit Italy so hard


Photo: Tiziana Fabi/AFP

That leaves Italy with 75,528 active cases of coronavirus.

That figure grew by 1,648 in the past 24 hours, slowing markedly from the 3,815 new active cases reported on Sunday.

Health officials said one of Monday's most encouraging figures was the drop in the number of people in the Lombardy region currently testing positive for COVID-19, from 25,392 on Sunday to 25,006 on Monday. Until now the figure had been growing continuously for over a month.

Deputy Health Minister Pierpaolo Sileri said the latest data showed that Italy was on course to start seeing “a drop in the number of people infected within seven to ten days”.

READ ALSO: 'More sacrifices to come': When will Italy finally reach the peak of the coronavirus epidemic?

While the latest people to die may have been infected before Italy imposed its nationwide quarantine, authorities are hoping that the slowdown in new cases is a sign that the drastic measures imposed two and a half weeks ago are beginning to bear fruit.

“The number of people testing positive is falling, despite the fact that we are continuing to carry out the same number of tests, and the number of people who need to be placed in intensive care is no longer as markedly high as it was at the beginning of last week,” said Franco Locatelli, president of Italy's top health advisory body, the Higher Health Council (CSS).

More than 31,000 people are currently in hospital with coronavirus, including nearly 4,000 in intensive care. The total has risen by just under 8,000 since last Monday.

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The signs confirm “how significant an effect the social containment measures we have undertaken, however much they have restricted our individual freedom, have had,” Locatelli said.

The current measures are bound to be extended beyond the initial deadline of April 3, he said.

“We're seeing results, results that we would not have had without the containment measures. And that's a reason to continue making this sacrifice.”

 

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HEALTH

Living in Italy: Five tips to help you survive the local pharmacy

From ear piercings to flu jabs, Italian ‘farmacie’ are among the most useful stores in the country, but they’re also very odd places. Here are our tips on getting through the pharmacy experience.

Living in Italy: Five tips to help you survive the local pharmacy

Italian pharmacies aren’t just stores selling prescription or over-the-counter medicines.

As a customer, you’ll find all sorts of natural remedies, basic health supplies and personal care items on their shelves. 

You’ll also be able to receive basic medical services (for instance, blood pressure checks, Covid tests and flu jabs) and some non-health-related ones (like getting your ears pierced!) in most branches. 

READ ALSO: Reader question: Can I still get the flu vaccine in Italy? 

But, while being extremely useful stores, Italian farmacie (pronunciation available here) are also peculiar places and their set of unwritten rules and solidified traditions may well throw off newcomers.. 

So here are five tips that might help you complete your first expeditions to your local pharmacy without making a fool of yourself.

1 – Decipher your doctor’s scribbles before your trip

Much like some of their foreign colleagues, Italian GPs have a penchant for writing prescriptions that no one else is actually able to read. 

We might never find out why doctors seem so intent on making ancient hieroglyphs fashionable again, but their calligraphic efforts will surely get in the way of you trying to buy whatever medicine you need to survive. 

To avoid hiccups, make sure you know exactly what you need to get. If in doubt, reach out to your GP to confirm.

Don’t rely on pharmacists being able to figure out your doctor’s handwriting because they often have no clue either.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: How to make a doctor’s appointment in Italy 

Pharmacy in Codogno, near Milan

In most small towns and rural areas local pharmacies have very ‘thin’ opening hours. Photo by Miguel MEDINA / AFP

2 – Double-check the pharmacy’s opening times

If you’re from the UK or the US, you might be used to pharmacies being open from 8am to 10pm on weekdays and having slightly reduced opening times over the weekend. 

You can forget about that in Italy. In big cities, most pharmacies will shut no later than 8pm on weekdays and will be closed on either Saturdays or Sundays.

READ ALSO: Coughs, colds and flu: What to say and do if you fall sick in Italy 

As for small towns or villages, opening times will have a nice Middle Ages vibe to them, with local stores remaining shut on weekends and keeping their doors open from 9am to 12.30pm and then from 3.30pm to 7.30pm on weekdays. 

So always check your local pharmacy’s hours before leaving home and, should their times not be available online, call them up. An awkward phone conversation with the pharmacist is still preferable to a wasted trip.

3 – Get the ‘numerino

Some Italian pharmacies have a ticket-dispensing machine with the aim of regulating the queue – a concept which is still foreign to many across the country.

All customers are expected to get a numbered paper ticket (the famed ‘numerino’) from the above machine and wait for their number to be called to walk up to the pharmacist’s desk. 

Now, the law of the land categorically prohibits customers from getting within a five-metre radius of the desk without a numerino

Also, trying to break that rule may result in a number of disdainful sideways glances from local customers.

4 – You cannot escape the in-store conversations, so embrace them 

Pharmacies aren’t just stores. They’re a cornerstone of Italian life and locals do a good deal of socialising on the premises. 

After all, the waiting times are often a bit dispiriting, so how can you blame them for killing the time?

Small pharmacy in Italy

Pharmacies are an essential part of Italian life and culture. Photo by Marco SABADIN / AFP

You might think that locals won’t want to talk to you because you’re a foreigner or don’t know the language too well, but you’ll marvel at how chatty some are.

While chit-chat might not be your cup of tea, talking with locals might help you improve your Italian, so it’s worth a shot.

5 – “Vuoi scaricarlo?”

The pharmacist finally gets you what you need and you’re now thinking that your mission is over. Well, not yet.

Before charging you for the items in question, the pharmacist will ask you whether you’d like to ‘scaricarli’ (literally, ‘offload them’) or not, which, no matter how good your Italian is, will not make any sense to you.

What the pharmacist is actually asking you is whether you want to link the purchase to your codice fiscale (tax code). 

READ ALSO: Codice fiscale: How to get your Italian tax code (and why you need one)   

That’s because Italy offers residents a 19-percent discount on some health-related expenses, which can be claimed through one’s annual income declaration (dichiarazione dei redditi) by attaching the receipts of all the eligible payments.

Whether you want to scaricare or not, this is the last obstacle before you can make your way back home.

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