Italy, brought to its knees by the scourge of the coronavirus, holds its breath on Monday by clinging to the slim hope that the drop in the number of deaths recorded the day before will start a slowdown in the pandemic.
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“The figures announced (Sunday) are lower than yesterday. I hope and we all hope that these figures can be confirmed in the coming days. But we must not lower our guard, “said Sunday evening the head of civil protection Angelo Borrelli, presenting the daily report, still heavy.
Italy recorded 651 new coronavirus-related deaths on Sunday, 142 fewer than the previous day’s record (793), and 3,957 additional cases, a figure again down by more than 800 cases in 24 hours.
Also in Lombardy, the northern region that has paid the heaviest price for the pandemic, and whose experts around the world are watching for the slightest developments, the figures, also down, have been greeted with great caution.
“The data is in chiaroscuro. Today, clarity prevails (…) even if we cannot declare victory, “tempered Giulio Gallera, head of health in the regional government.
These figures are “auspicious” even if it is really only “from Tuesday that we will be able to know if the containment is successful”, two weeks after the implementation on March 10 of national containment measures.
The same caution applies to Giovanni Maga, virologist at the Institute of Molecular Genetics in Pavia (North), who stresses that “the evolution of positive cases is sometimes fluctuating”.
“We will have to wait at least two to three days to find out if this is a real trend or not,” he said on Rai News 24 on Monday.
To increase the country’s chances of getting out of the pandemic as quickly as possible, which left nearly 5,500 dead in a month, the government extended decree on containment measures on Monday, notably shutting down all production industries non-essential and now prohibiting Italians from moving from one municipality to another, except in the case of “absolute emergency” or for “health reason”.
The objective of this new text, the third in two weeks, is to obstruct the circulation of people as much as possible, especially between the North and the South as was the case on the weekend of March 7 and 8 after the decision to place 15 million Northerners in quarantine.
Thousands of people working in the north had then rushed to the stations to join their relatives in Campania (Naples region) or in Puglia (the “heel” of the boot), contributing to the spread of the virus in these regions less well equipped in terms of health.
Behaviors deemed, however, limited by the media, for which the vast majority of Italians now seem to accept and respect the restrictive measures as shown by the deserted streets of the main Italian cities from Milan to Naples, via Rome and Florence, far from crowds observed two weeks ago on beaches or in parks.
In Trastevere, a picturesque district in the heart of Rome, convenience store customers complied with safety instructions on Monday, respecting distances between them and putting on plastic gloves distributed at the entrance. Most were wearing masks, an AFP journalist said.
Law enforcement officials have also stepped up controls, including on those who wish to go to their second home, which is now strictly prohibited.
The governor of Lombardy Attilio Fontana (League, extreme right) once again qualified Monday the new decree of “too lax”, astonished for example that the hotels and building sites are not closed in all Italy, contrary to his region.
In the midst of a health crisis, support for the action of the head of government, Giuseppe Conte, reached “unprecedented heights”: 71% of favorable opinions against 52% in February, the daily La Repubblica noted this weekend.
This same survey reveals that 94% of those questioned consider the measures adopted by the executive to be “positive”, even “very positive”, from the closure of schools to the cessation of commercial activities, including limiting the circulation of people. For 46% of them, Italy is doing better than other European countries in the face of this historic crisis.