Italian health officials said Sunday that the nationwide quarantine put into place nearly a month ago is starting to show measurable results, as the one-day coronavirus death toll showed its smallest increase in nearly three weeks and the number of hospitalized patients declined.
"We cannot let our guard down, but the trend" is positive, Angelo Borrelli, the head of Italy's Civil Protection Department, said Sunday. "It is still essential for residents to continue to stay at home and to leave only for the proven needs allowed" under quarantine rules.
Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced the country's first national coronavirus quarantine, the first in Europe, earlier last month. Officially, it is set to expire on April 13, though Borrelli and other ranking officials have speculated it will be further extended far beyond that date.
Conte himself said Sunday that it was "impossible" to predict when the crisis would end in Italy.
Between Saturday and Sunday, the coronavirus death toll in Italy was 525, the lowest one-day total since March 19, when COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, claimed 427 lives.
The country registered its one-day high of 969 fatalities on March 27. The death toll has decreased in five of nine days since then.
Still, the pandemic that claimed its first life in Italy on Feb. 20 has now resulted in 15,887 deaths, more than in any other country based on official figures.
The total number of coronavirus patients in Italian hospitals also declined, slightly: 28,949 are hospitalized with symptoms, 61 fewer than a day earlier, and 3,977 are in intensive care units, down 17 from the previous day.
The total number of recovered individuals rose to 21,815, an increase of 819. That number is smaller than the 1,238 registered as cured in the previous 24-hour period.
The number of active cases in the country climbed to 91,246 on Sunday, up from 88,274 a day earlier. All told, Italy has registered a total of 128,948 cases since the start of the outbreak, up from 124,632 registered Saturday.
Earlier on Sunday, Borrelli announced that domestic production of protective masks had increased to the point that every resident will have access to them within days, a step that will further enhance Italy's battle to contain the pandemic.
On the day, the northern Italian Alpine region of Valle d'Aosta, one of the Italian regions hit least hard by the outbreak with only 576 active cases, became the first Italian region to make the use of protective gloves and masks obligatory for anyone leaving their homes in the region.
According to Italian Minister of Public Administration Fabiana Dadone, Italian civil servants are making a quick shift to working at home during the pandemic. Dadone said nearly three in four public workers still working did their jobs from home last week, compared to around 5 percent prior to the start of the crisis.