Italy's coronavirus death toll tops 25,000

AFP , Wednesday 22 Apr 2020

Medical staff (R) discuss as a sociomedical worker (Rear C) is pictured during her shift at the Cremona hospital's COVID-19 intensive therapy area on April 22, 2020, in Cremona AFP

Italy's official death toll from the novel coronavirus topped 25,000 on Wednesday, but the number of those currently being treated declined for a third consecutive day as the government considers easing some of the lockdown measures.

With 437 fatalities reported by the civil protection services over the past 24 hours, the Mediterranean country's official toll over the past two months rose to 25,085 -- the second-highest in the world after the United States.

Nevertheless, most doctors believe that Italy's actual toll is substantially higher because most care home deaths are not counted and the number of people who died outside hospitals is unknown.

The decline in the number of active virus cases was accompanied by a fall in the number of people receiving intensive care treatment to the lowest level since March 18.

Both figures are being watched closely by the Italian government as it considers which restrictions to lift and which to extend when the nation's current lockdown ends on May 3.

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has promised to outline his plan for the next stage in Italy's battle against the virus by the end of the week.

He was meeting with regional and labour union leaders Wednesday to prepare for a possible easing of some of the strictest measures.

Italy's national lockdown is the longest one currently in force anywhere in the world.

Its stay-at-home orders -- introduced on March 9 -- have since been replicated by other European nations.

Conte ordered all shops except for pharmacies and grocery stores to close on March 12.

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