A man wearing a face mask walks on a street in Rome, Italy, on April 27, 2020. (Photo: Xinhua)
ROME, April 30 (Xinhua) -- Italy on Thursday recorded the highest daily number of coronavirus recoveries since the emergency started in late February, the country's Civil Protection Department said.
"Today we recorded the highest number of recoveries since the beginning of the emergency, with 4,693 new recoveries compared to yesterday, bringing the total to 75,945 recoveries," Civil Protection Department Chief Angelo Borrelli told a televised press conference.
The death toll on Thursday was 285, bringing the total to 27,967 in the country. The new infections on the day were 1,872, bringing the total number of cases -- combining infections, fatalities and recoveries -- in Italy to 205,463.
Of those 101,551 now infected, 1,694 are in intensive care, down by 101 patients compared to Wednesday, and 18,149 are hospitalized in normal wards, down by 1,061. The rest, or 80 percent of those who tested positive, is in isolation at home.
LAST PRESS CONFERENCE
Borrelli, who also serves as extraordinary commissioner for the coronavirus emergency, announced that this would be the last such press conference since the country is heading towards a partial relaxation of the national lockdown beginning on May 4, and he took the opportunity to thank the foreign countries that stepped in to help Italy in its time of need.
"I wish to remember the great generosity of the European and non-European countries that have helped by sending doctors and medical equipment," Borrelli said. "I want to thank them all, because their support was decisive for us at a time when our country was experiencing objective difficulties."
Borrelli went on to praise the thousands of men and women who joined his Department as volunteers during the coronavirus emergency, peaking at 21,624 volunteers on April 24, as well as the hundreds of doctors and nurses who volunteered to be redeployed to Italy's most stricken regions.
"I also want to remember the generosity of the Italian people, who since the beginning of the emergency have donated over 142 million euros (156 million U.S. dollars) for the purchase of medical equipment and individual protection kits, plus over six million euros for the relatives of medical personnel who lost their lives in the frontlines of the battle against the virus," said Borrelli.
Also at the press conference was Dr. Luca Richeldi, who heads the Pulmonology Department at Rome's Policlinico Gemelli Hospital and who sits on the Technical and Scientific Committee advising the government on how to fight the pandemic.
"Today's data is very comforting," said Richeldi in reference to the drop in positive cases and the rise in recoveries.
"We have six regions reporting no COVID-19 deaths and nine regions with under 10 deaths," he added.
"This means we have a clear confirmation that the adopted measures have led to a drastic reduction of the extraordinary pressure on our national health service that we saw in the past," Richeldi said.
"Over the past 15 days under lockdown, we have halved the number of deaths and of ICU patients, we have doubled the recoveries, and we have significantly reduced the number of hospitalizations," he said.
"The spread of the virus has slowed down," Richeldi said.
At a press conference earlier in the day, National Institute of Health (ISS, in its Italian acronym) President Silvio Brusaferro said that "the (epidemiological) curve continues to decrease, both in terms of numbers of symptomatic people and in terms of the number of cases, which are decreasing across all of (Italy's 20) regions."
The number of regions with limited cases is also growing, Brusaferro added.
"This confirms the positive impact of the (lockdown) measures and also the extent to which citizens have adhered to the measures," he said.
"But we are still in a phase of epidemy," he warned.
Brusaferro also said that there have been 6,395 confirmed cases of infection from the new coronavirus among immigrants in Italy.
He cited ISTAT national statistics institute data showing that as of Jan. 1, 2019, there were just over 5.25 million immigrants in Italy, making up 8.7 percent of the country's total population of about 60 million people.
"The epidemiological curve among foreign citizens is very similar to ours," Brusaferro said.
As far as the lethality of the virus, Brusaferro called Italy's death toll "a highly significant number of fatalities."
He confirmed that the new coronavirus is most dangerous for the elderly and for people affected by other diseases -- the average age of the deceased is 81 years and the average age of those infected is 62 years.
"A great portion of the deceased, or 63 percent, had three or more co-morbidities," said Brusaferro in reference to other diseases or chronic conditions.
Also present at the press conference was Stefano Merler, a researcher from the Bruno Kessler Foundation, a non-profit research institute.
He said that in the northern Lombardy region where the pandemic first broke out, studies have confirmed that it takes an average of 6.6 days for the symptoms from the new coronavirus infection to arise.
Merler also said that studies have shown that children under 15 years of age are 66 percent less susceptible to the infection than people aged 15-64, and that adults aged over 65 years are 47 percent more susceptible (meaning at higher risk of infection) than people in the 15-64 age group.
He also said that of the patients who end up in intensive care, 66.6 percent either die or recover within 10 days, while 33.3 percent remain in the ICU for 21 days on average before recovering.
Italy entered into a national lockdown on March 10 to contain the pandemic. The lockdown, expected to last until May 3, will be followed by a so-called "Phase Two," which involves the gradual resumption of social, economic and productive activities.
Beginning May 4, the manufacturing, construction, and wholesale sectors can resume work. Following them are retailers, museums, galleries, and libraries on May 18, and bars, restaurants, hairdressers and beauty salons on June 1. All businesses will have to follow rigorous workplace safety protocols.