This article was updated on 6 April 2020.
- Italy recorded its lowest rise in new cases for five days yesterday.
- The number of new deaths has fallen to its lowest rate since 19 March.
- Officials believe the worst of the outbreak has now passed.
Italy recorded its lowest rise in the number of new COVID-19 cases for five days on Sunday, raising hopes that the worst of the outbreak has now passed.
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Italy recorded 4,316 new cases of coronavirus on Sunday, compared with 4,805 new cases on Saturday. Yesterday's death toll of 575 was Italy's lowest since 19 March.
"The curve has started to descend and the death toll is also starting to drop,” Silvio Brusaferro, President of Italy's Superior Institute of Health, said in a press conference yesterday. "It is a result that we have to achieve day after day.
"If this is confirmed, we need to start thinking about the second phase and keep down the spread of this disease."
Italy has suffered the world's deadliest outbreak of coronavirus. As of Sunday 5 April, 15,887 people have died from the disease in the country, which has recorded 128,948 confirmed cases.
The Italian government imposed a nationwide lockdown on 10 March. The measures stopped people from leaving their homes except to go to work, to shop for food or other necessities, to exercise or walk dogs for brief periods, or perform essential tasks like caring for an elderly relative.
On 22 March, it extended restrictions, closing all non-essential businesses and banning any movement inside the country other than for “non-deferrable and proven business or health reasons or other urgent matters”.
Despite Italy's growing optimism, new measures continue to be put in place to halt the spread of the disease. Last week, authorities in Lombardy - the country's worst-hit region - passed a law requiring residents to wear face masks whenever they go outside. This ordinance will last until 13 April, and those who flout it could be fined €400.