Italy's records 78 new coronavirus deaths, 397 new cases

on Tuesday reported 78 more fatalities from the novel coronavirus, bringing the death toll to 32,955, as the Italian Red Cross started to conduct voluntary blood tests to search for antibodies to the virus. The low increase in registered on Tuesday confirms the slowing trend in the virus outbreak, showing that the peak of the crisis has been left behind.

Deaths from the COVID-19 epidemic in Italy climbed by 78 on Tuesday, against 92 the day before, the Civil Protection Agency said, while the daily tally of new cases increased to 397 from 300 on Monday.

The total death toll since the outbreak came to light on Feb. 21 now stands at 32,955 the agency said, the third-highest in the world after those of the United States and Britain.

The number of confirmed cases amounts to 230,555, the sixth-highest global tally behind those of the United States, Brazil, Russia, Spain and Britain.

People registered as currently carrying the illness fell to 52,942 from 55,300 the day before, the agency said.

There were 521 people in intensive care on Tuesday, down from 541 on Monday, maintaining a long-running decline. Of those originally infected, 144,658 were declared recovered against 141,981 a day earlier.

The agency said 2.253 million people had been tested for the virus against 2.219 million on Monday, out of a population of around 60 million.

The northern Lombardy region remains the epicenter of the pandemic, with victims rising to 15,896, almost half of the total.

The Italian Red Cross on Monday started contacting people to carry out 150,000 blood tests for antibodies to the new coronavirus, in a bid to learn about people who may have recovered from the virus without ever realizing they had it.

Participation in the test is not obligatory, but-given the country's epidemiological situation-is needed, experts said.

People selected will be contacted by phone by Red Cross regional centers to arrange an appointment for a blood test to be taken at a local lab. The test can also be done at home if the person is fragile or vulnerable.

If the test is positive, the person will be quarantined at home and contacted by the regional health service to undergo a swab test and verify whether they are contagious.

The Red Cross, however, said on Tuesday that out of 7,300 calls, only 25% of the people contacted agreed to take the test, while over 60% asked to be contacted later, and 15% said they were still evaluating the option.

Health Minister Roberto Speranza issued a call for Italians to voluntarily take the test, stressing its importance in the fight against the virus.

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