Italy marks locked-down Easter as COVID-19 claims almost 20,000 lives
ROME. KAZINFORM - The coronavirus pandemic has claimed 19,899 lives in locked-down Italy since the pandemic first broke out in the country on Feb. 21, according to the latest official data released on Easter Sunday.
Speaking during a televised press conference, Civil Protection Department Chief Angelo Borrelli said that the total number of infections, fatalities, and recoveries has reached 156,363.
The day also saw 1,984 new active coronavirus infections, bringing the nationwide total to 102,253.
Of those infected, 27,847 are hospitalized -- down by 297 compared to Saturday, while 3,343 are in intensive care -- down by 38. The rest are in home-isolation.
The death toll on Sunday was 431, bringing the total to 19,899. There were 1,677 more recoveries, pushing that total to 34,211.
While the overall numbers of hospitalizations and patients requiring intensive care are trending downwards, the infection continues unabated in the northern Lombardy region, where the pandemic first broke out. The region has the lion's share of cases at 31,265 active infections, according to official data.
For comparison, the next most affected region was Emilia Romagna at 13,672 infections, followed by Piedmont (12,505), and Veneto (10,729).
In a message on Facebook, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte tried to encourage the nation as it spent this major holiday in lockdown. He wished a happy Easter «to all Italians, those who are suffering today, those who face an empty chair, and those fighting in hospitals to keep tears and sorrow at bay from their communities.»
«We miss the smiles of our relatives, the hugs of our friends, the beautiful traditions of our towns ... The sacrifices each of us are making on this important Sunday are a gesture of authentic attachment to what really matters and what we will soon recover,» said the prime minister.
«Together, we will make it,» he concluded.
Normally, millions of Italians get on the road to visit family and friends and take mini-holidays over the long Easter weekend. However this year, the pandemic has caused hundreds of millions of euros in lost revenue, according to the National Federation of the Travel and Tourism Industry (Federturismo).
«Easter 2020 will be remembered due to the closure of over 95 percent of hotels across Italy and ... a loss of turnover of 300 million euros (328 million U.S. dollars) between Saturday and Monday,» Federturismo said in its recent forecast for the holiday weekend.
Also on Sunday, the Ministry of Infrastructure and Transportation said that with the aid of the Red Cross, rescued migrants and crew aboard the Alan Kurdi vessel run by Sea Eye, a German humanitarian NGO, will be transferred to an Italian vessel, where they will be quarantined.
«This humanitarian intervention cannot involve their coming ashore in Italian ports due to strong organizational and health care pressure during the COVID-19 emergency,» said a ministry statement. «This pressure would make it complicated to accommodate the rescuers and those they rescued in fully secure conditions.»
On Twitter, the Sea Eye said they had «149 guests on board» whom they rescued in two different operations earlier this week. None of the rescuees showed symptoms of coronavirus or tuberculosis.
Italy declared a six-month national state of emergency due to the coronavirus pandemic. The government followed this up with a nationwide lockdown that went into effect on March 10.
A month later, on April 10, Conte announced the lockdown would continue until May 3, to be followed by a so-called Phase Two involving «the gradual resumption of social, economic and productive activities.»