figure comes as Italy’s government said it would extend the nationwide lockdown measures until the Easter season in April.
The lockdown was due to end on Friday, but officials said containment measures, which shut down most shops and bans people from leaving their homes except for essential supplies, would be extended to slow the spread of the virus further.
Health Minister Roberto Speranza said in a statement after a meeting between the scientific committee and the government: “The evaluation was to extend all containment measures at least until Easter. The government will move in this direction.”
There was no confirmed date for the new end of the lockdown, which has already been ongoing for the past three weeks, but the Health Ministry said it would be in a law proposed by the government.
Italy is the world’s worst-affected country in terms of the number of coronavirus-related deaths and accounts for more than a third of all fatalities worldwide.
The Civil Protection Agency said the death toll rose by 812 between Sunday and Monday, a figure that reversed two consecutive days of declines in fatalities.
But officials are confident that extending the lockdown and maintaining restrictions on movement and gatherings are “the right track”.
Attilio Fontana, president of Italy’s hardest-hit region, Lombardy, said the unprecedented curbs needed to stay in place because they were helping to prevent an exponential rise in infections.
He said: “We’re on the right track, we’re maintaining a [chart] line that’s not uphill, but it’s not downhill either.”
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Lombardy, where the financial capital Milan is located, accounts for nearly 60 per cent of deaths in the country and around 40 per cent of coronavirus infections.
Silvio Brusaferro, head of the national health institute, said the rate of new cases “has to fall significantly” before the government can consider easing the restrictions.
“For sure the re-opening will happen gradually… we are even considering the British idea of ‘stop and go’ which envisages opening things for a certain amount of time and then closing them again,” he told local daily La Repubblica.
Maria Rita Gismondo, a doctor at Milan’s Sacco hospital, told The Independent that the decrease in numbers had begun to take off some of the pressure from the overburdened hospitals.
“We are still full to the brink, but we welcome the first sign of relief and, one month on, we can say we are also more organised and prepared to manage the situation.”
Additional reporting by agencies
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