ROME, March 26 (Xinhua) -- The number of new COVID-19 cases reported daily in Italy is dropping steadily while the daily death toll is still fluctuating.
Based on the mixed picture, local experts forecast a trend of slower growth of COVID-19 infections in the country in the coming weeks.
A total of 3,491 new cases were reported on Wednesday, representing a downward trend from the past few days when the figure stood at 3,612 Tuesday, 3,780 Monday and 3,956 Sunday respectively.
"The number of new infections is how we measure the spread of the pandemic," said Enzo Marinari, a professor of theoretical physics at Sapienza University in Rome, noting that it could be misleading to only compare the new cases from one day with those from the previous days.
"We should be comparing the trend in the number of new cases to what had been exponential growth, which was the case until last week," said the professor, who has organized a much-consulted social media page dedicated to the analysis of the viral outbreak in the country.
"I think we are getting nearer to the kind of plateau we have been looking for," Giovanni Maga, head of the DNA Enzymology and Molecular Virology Unit at the National Research Council, said, adding such a trend was expected as Italy began a series of containment measures about two weeks ago.
Given the incubation period of the virus, "this is the week when things were expected to start slowing down," Maga said. "It's still far, far too early to think about changing what we are doing but we can start to look at what the next phase could be."
Both Marinari and Maga are of the opinion that the next phase will come when patients recovering from the coronavirus start to outnumber new cases on a daily basis.
"We will get there," Maga said. "We just have to remain diligent and continue to follow the rules from the public authorities."
Meanwhile, the death toll in recent days has been less predictable. On Wednesday, health officials reported 683 new deaths, down from 743 on Tuesday. The figures stood at 602 and 651 respectively for Monday and Sunday, though.
Marinari said while the death toll is still far too high, it is not a good way to measure the effectiveness of Italy's current coronavirus containment policies.
"The death toll is a photograph from 20 to 25 days earlier when the victims first got infected," he said. "When the death figures are a reflection of those who became infected this week, we will see a far lower figure."