Italy death toll adds 812 but cases slide
The death toll from an outbreak of coronavirus in Italy has risen by 812 in the last 24 hours, the Civil Protection Agency says, reversing two days of declines.
Italy, the world's hardest hit country which accounts for more than a third of all global fatalities, recorded its total death tally rise to 11,591 since the outbreak emerged in northern regions on February 21.
More positively, the number of new cases rose by just 4050, the lowest amount since March 17, reaching a total of 101,739.
However, the decline in new infections may be partly explained by a reduction in the number of tests, which were the fewest for six days.
Italians have been under a country-wide lockdown for three weeks and officials said the restrictions, which were due to end on Friday, look certain for at least two more weeks.
"We have to agree on this with other regions, but I think we are talking about (maintaining the block) until at least mid-April," Attilio Fontana, head of the worst-affected Lombardy region, told reporters.
The governor of the southern region of Puglia said on Saturday the restrictions should stay until May.
Underscoring the dangers of the disease, the Italian doctors' association announced the deaths of 11 more doctors on Monday, bringing the total to 61.
Not all of them had been tested for coronavirus before they died, it said, but it linked their deaths to the epidemic.
Lombardy, which is centred on Italy's financial capital Milan, accounts for almost 60 per cent of the total deaths in Italy and about 40 per cent of cases.
Fontana said the unprecedented curbs on movement, gatherings and business activity were preventing an exponential rise in cases, and needed to be kept in place.
"We're on the right track, we're maintaining a (chart) line that's not uphill, but it's not downhill either," he said.
The head of the national health institute Silvio Brusaferro, who is advising the government on how to handle the crisis, also said that for restrictions to be eased "the number of new cases has to fall significantly".
"For sure the re-opening will happen gradually... we are even considering the British idea of 'stop and go', which envisages opening things for a certain amount of time and then closing them again," he told La Repubblica daily.
Originally published as Italy death toll adds 812 but cases slide