Italy’s new virus cases decline even though record number tested

John Follain

Italy reported a slight drop in new coronavirus cases on Friday even as a record number of people were tested, though experts warn the virus is not yet in check.

There were 3,493 new cases of the disease, compared with 3,786 a day earlier, civil protection officials said at their daily briefing in Rome. Confirmed cases in the country now total 172,434.

Italy registered 575 deaths linked to the virus, compared with 525 the day before. That brings the total number of fatalities to 22,745. Individuals tested in the last 24 hours reached 65,705 and the number of recovered patients hit a record as well.

A nurse tends to a patient in the intensive care unit of the COVID-19 department of the Policlinic of Tor Vergata in Rome, Friday, April 17, 2020.

Italy’s coronavirus cases have reached an “artificial” peak as a result of lockdown measures, Giovanni Rezza, head of the infectious diseases department at Rome’s national health institute, said earlier Friday. “We see that there is a decreasing trend in the number of new cases, but the virus is not disappearing,” he said.

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, whose government approved an initial 25 billion-euro ($569 billion) stimulus package last month, is working on new measures to help families and businesses hit by a nationwide lockdown that has prohibited movement within the country, shut down all non-essential businesses, and virtually confined people to their homes.

New spending may total 70 billion euros and be approved at a cabinet meeting on Monday, newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore reported earlier Friday.

The Rome Senate is due to vote on Wednesday and the lower house next Friday to authorize the government to further widen the budget deficit to finance the stimulus.