The number of new coronavirus cases in Italy dropped for the second day in a row Monday, providing a brief glimmer of hope amid despair that has taken hold since the deadly outbreak began.
Italy registered 4,789 new cases on Monday, down more than 700 from the day before, The Hill reported. However, the infection rate rebounded on Tuesday with over 5,000 new cases, and the death toll also bounced back to its second worst ever after two days of decline, Reuters reported.
“We need more consecutive results to confirm the trend, to be more certain that we are in a favorable situation,” an Italian health official said, before figures jumped again Tuesday.
Italy sees glimmer of hope
Italy is the Western epicenter of the pandemic, which has overwhelmed the nation’s hospital system and left millions living under mandatory lockdown orders. The country’s death toll has even surpassed that of China, where the virus originated.
The country seemed to find some respite when the number of new cases dropped Monday for the second consecutive day, with 4,789 new cases after the 5,560 recorded Sunday. The number of deaths also dropped, from 651 on Sunday to about 600. The decrease provided cause for hope, just days after Italy’s death rate peaked at 793 fatalities on Saturday.
However, the numbers that were recorded the next day left reason to doubt that Italy had in fact crested the wave. The rate in deaths jumped again Tuesday, with 743 new mortalities recorded, Reuters reported. Tuesday marked the second worst day for coronavirus deaths in the European nation so far. Meanwhile, the number of new cases increased by 8.2%, in keeping with Monday’s increase.
The rebound in deaths created uncertainty as to whether Italy had the worst of the outbreak behind it, as the nation’s Civil Protection Agency warned that the number of actual infections could be 10 times higher than the official tally. As of Tuesday, Italy had about 69,000 cases and some 6,800 deaths, according to Reuters.
Indefinite lockdown possible?
Some positive news: 8,300 people have recovered in Italy, more than have died, according to Johns Hopkins University’s COVID-19 tracker. However, it’s fair to say that Italy has been all over the map in terms of outcomes, going by the numbers from day to day.
In the meantime, the country has provided what many consider a grim omen of things to come for nations lagging behind, like France, Spain, and the United States. There have been reports of doctors rationing care to spare younger patients, as the country’s healthcare system races to heal a crush of patients. The despair has borne stories of great sacrifice, like that of an elderly priest who died after giving his ventilator to a younger patient.
Italy’s north, especially the region of Lombardy, has been especially hard hit. Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said Tuesday that fines for those who defy lockdown orders have been increased, even as he expressed hope to lift the restrictions soon. Those who leave home without a good reason face fines of $430 to $3,227, Reuters reported.
Meanwhile, the number of cases in America is rapidly increasing. Millions of Americans have been asked to isolate at home, and restaurants, shops, and bars have closed, in echoes of actions previously taken by Italy to slow the spread.
As of now, Italian authorities plan to leave the current restrictions in place until April 3, but some expect the lockdowns to continue indefinitely.