World

Italy, Spain see slowing rate of coronavirus deaths

ROME: Italian officials said Sunday they may soon consider easing restrictions after seeing the daily coronavirus death toll plunge to its lowest in more than two weeks.

The 525 official Covid-19 fatalities reported by the Civil Protection Service was the Mediterranean country's lowest toll since 427 deaths were registered on March 19.

They also represented a decline of 23 per cent from the 681 deaths reported on Saturday.

"The curve has started its descent and the number of deaths has started to drop," Italy's ISS national health institute director Silvio Brusaferro told reporters.

The officials reported the first decline Sunday in the number of non-critical Covid-19 patients receiving hospital care across the country's 22 regions.

That number fell from 29,010 on Saturday to 28,949 on Sunday.

The number of critical patients edged down from 3,994 on Saturday to 3,977 on Sunday - the second successive decline.

"If these data are confirmed (in the coming days), we will have to start thinking about Phase 2," he said in reference to an easing of a month-long national lockdown.

Italy's second phase against a virus that has now officially killed 15,887 may be trickier for the government to pull off than the first as no Western nation has tried it since the virus spread from China to Europe in February.

Italian health officials remain cautious because they know the death toll is falling as everyone is spending almost all their time at home.

Civil Protection Service chief Angelo Borrelli called Sunday's drop in reported deaths "good news".

"But we should not let our guard down," he warned.

Spain too, is seeing some light at the end of the tunnel.

Its pace of new coronavirus deaths slowed for the fourth day on Sunday in the country with the second highest death toll from the global pandemic.

Yesterday, it reported 637 fatalities in the previous 24 hours - a 5 per cent increase in total and about half the pace of a week previously. - AFP, REUTERS

WORLD