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HEALTH

Pressure on Italy’s intensive care wards eases as new coronavirus cases slow again

While deaths remain high, new coronavirus cases in Italy are slowing and the number of patients in intensive care has dropped for the third day in row.

Pressure on Italy's intensive care wards eases as new coronavirus cases slow again
A healthcare worker with a Covid-19 patient in Bergamo, northern Italy. Photo: Miguel Medina/AFP

Another 3,599 cases were confirmed in Italy on Monday, the Civil Protection department announced, more than 700 fewer than in the 24 hours before when the country reported 4,316 new cases.

That took the rate at which new cases are increasing day-on-day down to 2.8 percent, its lowest since the outbreak began.

Italy has now confirmed a total of 132,547 cases, 16,523 of them fatal.

Another 636 coronavirus patients died in the past 24 hours, the Civil Protection department said, an increase from the day before when the death toll hit a two-week low of 525.

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Meanwhile 1,022 more people recovered over the same period, taking the total number of recoveries so far to 22,837.

That leaves Italy with 93,187 active cases of Covid-19 – 1,941 more than on Sunday evening and more than a thousand fewer than the increase between Saturday and Sunday (+2,972).

For the third day in a row, the number of people in intensive care fell: it currently stands at 3,898, compared to 3,977 on Sunday and 3,994 on Saturday.

The number of people receiving non-intensive hospital care increased slightly (+27) on Monday to 28,976 after having fallen for the first time since the outbreak began on Sunday (28,949), but remained lower than it had been on Saturday (29,010).

Another 60,313 infected people are currently in self-isolation at home.

“The numbers are less alarming, which should be of comfort but shouldn't make us lower our guard because this data is still alarming,” said Luca Richeldi, a pulmonology specialist on the government's Technical and Scientific Committee (CTS).

Yet while deaths – which may reflect cases contracted several weeks ago – remain high, the daily increase in people hospitalised with Covid-19 has fallen by more than 90 percent since March 30, he said.

“Today's figures confirm the trend that for a few days now has been downward. It is reassuring to see effective containment of the spread of the infection,” Richeldi said. After more than three weeks of nationwide lockdown, he said, “the results of the containment measures and our efforts are plain for all to see”.

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Italy's sweeping quarantine measures, first introduced nationally on March 9 and tightened several times since, are due to last until at least April 13. 

They are expected to continue to some degree for several months beyond that, as the government lifts restrictions gradually in what it is calling “phase two” of Italy's coronavirus emergency.

The CTS will wait to see more data in the coming days before making its recommendations to the government about how to proceed beyond April 13, Richeldi said.

The true number of coronavirus victims in Italy could be much higher than the 16,523 confirmed fatalities, which do not include people who died at home, or in nursing homes, or those who were infected by the virus but not tested.

Among the deaths are at least 87 doctors, 25 nurses and six pharmacists.

 

Member comments

  1. You are using the worldometer numbers again. Thank you! It is the most reliable numbers we have and will really make a difference to how people treat the quarantine rules.

  2. Hi James, apologies for the confusion with the numbers in the previous article – we’ll continue to report the full number of new cases now, rather than the “change in active cases” figure, which we agree is unhelpful. Thanks for reading.

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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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