ROME: To date, the coronavirus pandemic has claimed 14,681 lives in locked-down Italy. The number of confirmed infections, fatalities and recoveries totaled 119,827 on Friday, the country's Civil Protection Department managing the national emergency response said on Friday.
Meanwhile, a moderate daily decrease in the number of new infections was confirmed by the country's experts.
On Friday, the country reported 766 coronavirus-related fatalities, six more than a day earlier.
The number of active infections increased to 85,388, with 2,339 new cases registered, against an increase of 2,477 on Thursday.
"Among those who tested positive, 4,068 are in intensive care, another 28,741 are hospitalized, and the remaining 52,579 -- or 62 percent -- are isolated at home because they either had no or only light symptoms," Civil Protection Department chief Angelo Borrelli told a press conference.
The number of recoveries has increased by 1,480 during the past 24 hours and to 19,758 in total. The previous daily increase was 1,431 new recoveries.
Borrelli also said that 619,849 coronavirus tests have been carried out across the country to date, over 80,000 of these in the last two days alone.
The official, who serves as extraordinary commissioner for the coronavirus emergency, explained that 114 patients have been transferred from the Lombardy region to other hospitals -- nine of them on Friday -- to alleviate the healthcare system of the region most affected by the pandemic.
Seventy-four of them are COVID-19 patients, and 38 of them, all tested positive, have been transferred to Germany, he specified.
"We have not reached the peak yet," Massimo Antonelli, director of intensive care at Policlinico Gemelli in Rome and member of the technical-scientific committee, told the press conference.
He stressed that the "falling trend we are witnessing is the result of what has happened in the last three weeks."
Meanwhile, fatalities among Italian doctors linked to the coronavirus have increased to 73, the country's Federation of Medical Associations (FNOMCeO) said.
Earlier on Friday, Borrelli confirmed that the national lockdown remains in force until April 13, stressing that it is up to the government to order its eventual extension "based on the recommendations of the technical-scientific committee."
Daily decrease in new infections
In a separate press conference on Friday, experts of Italy's National Health Institute (ISS) and Higher Health Council (CSS) provided fresh insights into the medical and epidemiological aspects of the crisis.
They confirmed a moderate daily decrease in the number of new infections.
"This nationwide trend is confirmed. We have some areas that show a high circulation of the virus, others show intermediate circulation, and elsewhere the circulation is quite limited," ISS President Silvio Brusaferro said.
"Yet, the key message to highlight is that there is no area in our country where the coronavirus does not circulate," he pointed out.
The latest Civil Protection data showed that the most affected regions remained northern Lombardy (26,189 positive cases), Emilia Romagna (12,178), Piedmont (9,130) and Veneto (8,861). In central Italy, Tuscany (4,909), Marche (3,631) and Lazio (3,009) are the worst-hit regions.
The ISS's epidemiological bulletin has also confirmed that men appeared to be more affected than women in Italy. Among all coronavirus-related deaths tested by the ISS to date, 31.4 percent were women.
The ISS is tasked with confirming the positive test of each COVID-19 case registered by the health system at the regional level.
Reason for 'moderate optimism'
ISS epidemiologist Giovanni Rezza addressed the effects of the nationwide lockdown implemented since March 10.
"If we had let the virus run quietly across the country -- so as to achieve herd immunity -- we would probably have exhausted the epidemic in six months, but leave many dead and injured on the ground," Rezza explained.
"In addition, when reaching the peak, our hospitals would have been overwhelmed."
Rezza said that now there is a reason for "moderate optimism" based on the trends observed in the country's southern regions.
Rezza warned that "phase 2" of the emergency, once declared, will have to be gradually implemented.
"Clearly, there will probably be a gradual or partial restart of production activities sooner or later on the basis of the government's decision," he said.
In "phase 2," control measures -- "such as early identification of infections and isolation of those who test positive" -- must be increasingly enforced all over the country, he said.
The epidemiologist explained that it would also be required "to develop strategies to minimize transmission even if 'social distancing' is observed, in circumstances in which the virus can continue to circulate, such as within families and among healthcare workers."