MILAN, April 4 (Reuters) – Italy on Saturday reported its biggest slowdown in the daily death toll from COVID-19 in nearly two weeks, saying the number of patients in intensive care fell for the first time.
But authorities urged not to ignore the stringent containment measures, which they believe are beginning to show results, although the new cases increased by 4,805 on Saturday, a slightly larger rise than in previous days.
The Civil Protection department reported 681 deaths, bringing the total to 15,632 from the first cases registered in northern Italy in late February. It was the smallest daily increase in deaths since March 23.
The total number of confirmed cases increased to 124,632 from the 119,827 reported on Friday, but for the first time, the number of patients in intensive care units decreased, with 3,994 cases under treatment, 74 fewer than on Friday.
“This is important news because it allows our hospitals to breathe,” Chief of Civil Protection Angelo Borelli said in a regular briefing in which he announced the world’s deadliest daily count of the disease.
For days, Italian officials have said that the steady rise in the number of cases suggests that the curve is flattening and that the numbers will begin to improve if strict quarantine measures are followed.
“Some images released on social media, showing the relaxed behavior of some people, fortunately only a few, should not be taken as an example, they should be deplored,” said Domenico Arcuri, the government’s special commissioner for the coronavirus.
“We cannot assume that it is time to return to normal,” he said.
(Additional report by Giulio Piovaccari. Edited in Spanish by Rodrigo Charme)