Italy’s coronavirus deaths hit new daily high
Italy reported 753 more coronavirus-related deaths on Wednesday, the highest daily figure since the start of the second pandemic wave.
According to the latest Health Ministry data, the death toll in Italy now stands at 47,217, the second-highest in Europe after the UK.
The Health Ministry also reported 34,282 more infections, about 6.5% higher than Tuesday.
Despite the surging number of daily fatalities, experts confirmed that the curve of contagion seems to have reached "a plateau" and could start falling in the next few weeks.
Another positive sign came from the infection rate, which on Wednesday remained stable below 15%, after having hovered around 17% in the past week, showing that the virus is now circulating at a slower pace.
The most worrying data remains the occupancy rate of intensive therapy units, with health officials stressing that 42% of all ICUs in the country are occupied with COVID-19 patients, well above the 30% critical threshold.
Health Minister Roberto Speranza said on Wednesday that the slowdown in the contagion curve indicates that the partial lockdown measures imposed in many regions are producing the first results. He added, however, that the situation remains serious and that "patience is needed."
After a strong response to the first outbreak in spring, Italy has been caught off guard by the second wave of the pandemic.
With most Italian hospitals overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients, the government in early November toughened restrictions in six regions, which are now classified as high-risk "red zones," introducing a three-tier system that has been opposed by many regional governors.
Responding to criticism over the government's response to the pandemic and its heavy economic impact, Italy's Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said Wednesday that this crisis requires "a financial commitment that is prolonged over time and even more hefty than what has been done so far."
"There is widespread social and psychological malaise among many citizens and business operators," Conte said, adding that the government is already working on a new package of economic measures that will support the country's recovery.