There were 20 fewer active cases of coronavirus in Italy on Monday than there were on Sunday, according to the latest official figures from the Civil Protection department: 108,237 compared to 108,257.
“For the first time, we have seen a new positive development: the number of [people] currently positive has declined,” Civil Protection chief Angelo Borrelli told reporters.
Overall, however, the total number of confirmed cases continued to increase, though at a slower rate.
The number of “active cases” is not the same as confirmed cases. It is the total number of confirmed cases reported that day, minus the day's number of dead and recovered patients – a new, much lower figure, which the Italian government began using at the end of March.
That total number of confirmed cases rose by 2,256 between Sunday and Monday, making 181,228 cases reported since the outbreak began.
The daily increase in total cases continues to slow, falling by nearly 800 compared to the previous 24 hours. The number is now growing by less than 1.7 percent per day.
As the government deliberates whether the epidemic has slowed sufficiently to lift some of Italy's quarantine measures, some scientific experts have said that 'Phase Two' of the nationwide lockdown shouldn't begin until the daily increase in cases slows below 1 percent.
Another 454 deaths were reported on Monday, a slight increase from 433 in the 24 hours before. In total 24,114 people are now known to have died in Italy since contracting the coronavirus, though the true figure is likely higher.
Meanwhile 1,822 more people recovered in the past 24 hours, making a total of 48,877.
Nearly 27,500 coronavirus patients are currently in hospital, including some 2,600 in intensive care. The number of people on both intensive and non-intensive wards continues to fall day by day (-62 and -127 respectively).
Photo: Alberto Pizzoli/AFP
Two Italian regions reported zero new cases on Monday: Basilicata in the south and Valle d'Aosta in the north-west. Umbria and Molise in central Italy recorded just one and two new cases respectively, while Calabria in the south-east had three.
In the worst-affected region of Lombardy, the daily increase in cases slowed from 855 to 735, while in Piedmont it dropped off from 593 to 292.
Italy's current near-total lockdown is due to expire on May 4th, though restrictions are expected to continue in some form for several more months.
The government has not yet announced which measures will be relaxed from May.
While some are calling for business to resume to mitigate the economic blow of Italy's lockdown, doctors are urging caution and a carefully staggered restart.
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Italy's coronavirus figures tend to show a decrease around weekends, when fewer tests are typically carried out.
Most Italian doctors believe the country's deaths and infections are far higher than those officially reported.
People who died at home or in care facilities for the elderly are not included, and some of the hardest-hit regions have only been testing those who appear the most visibly sick.