Inter-region movement in Italy expected to open

Active coronavirus infections in Italy dropped to 46,175, after a decrease by 1,811 cases was registered over the 24 hours, showed the latest data from the Civil Protection Department.

It marked the lowest figure since March 22, when active infections in the country stood at 46,638 on Friday, reported Xinhua news agency.

Of these infections, 475 patients are in intensive care units, down by 14 compared to Thursday, the Civil Protection said in its bulletin. Another 7,094 patients are hospitalized with symptoms (down by 285), and 38,606, or 84 percent — are in isolation at home because without symptoms or with mild symptoms.

Up to 2,240 new recoveries were registered on a daily basis, which brought to 152,844 the total of people cured since the pandemic broke out in late February. Meanwhile, 87 new fatalities were reported, pushing the country’s death toll to 33,229.

The total number of assessed cases stood at 232,248, including active infections, fatalities, and recoveries.

On the same day, a top health official warned the easing of restrictions on people’s movement between regions — expected to come into effect next week, although yet to confirm — would be a “crucial challenge” for the country.

“We have overcome the peak of the infection, and we are now on the downward side of the curve… this phase requires particular attention in terms of early detecting new suspected cases,” Silvio Brusaferro, president of Italy’s National Health Institute (ISS), told the lower house.

“Next week, we will be facing an even more crucial challenge, with the liberalization of mobility between (Italian) regions, and the international one,” he warned.

After some restrictions on people’s movements imposed since March 10 with the lockdown were gradually lifted in recent weeks, travelling within the same region of residence was allowed only from May 18. The next step in the government’s official schedule would, in fact, be to reopen moves between Italian regions by June 3.

However, this date was yet to be confirmed by Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte’s cabinet, which announced it will make a final decision after analyzing the latest data over the weekend (May 30-31) and after discussing it with local authorities.

In a scheduled meeting with all regional governors on Saturday, the cabinet would submit two possible options, namely reopening the inter-regional people’s travels by June 3 as planned, or postpone it a week later, according to local media.

As for the continental context, temporary non-essential travel restrictions imposed between the European Union (EU) countries are set to expire on June 15.

In his hearing before the Chamber of Deputies, the ISS chief also said the second wave of coronavirus infections in autumn was possible in Italy.

“In terms of scenario, we imagine that a disease such as (caused by) Sars-COV-2… can be more easily transmitted in autumn, and it could be confused with other respiratory symptomologies,” Brusaferro noted.

He explained that autumn, as always, would bring colder weather, so people will generally tend to spend less time in the sun and in open-air overall, and stay more indoor.

These normal behaviours would represent a factor possibly impacting negatively on the pandemic trend, in a context in which the coronavirus still circulates in the country.

“The hypothesis of the ‘second wave’ is based on this factor, which is — from a scientific point of view — an objective data,” Brusaferro said.

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