BRUSSELS: Coronavirus-stricken Europe breathed a sigh of relief Sunday as Italy reported its lowest single-day deaths in nearly three weeks and Spain saw continued fall in new cases and deaths.
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 has now resulted in 15,887 deaths, more than in any other country.
"We cannot let our guard down, but the trend" is positive, Angelo Borrelli, the head of Italy's Civil Protection Department, said Sunday.
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 128,948 cases since the start of the outbreak, up from 124,632 registered Saturday.
In Spain, which overtook Italy Saturday in confirmed cases, the number of new cases and deaths continued to fall.
A total of 6,023 new infections were registered between Saturday and Sunday, fewer than the 7,026 new cases in the previous 24 hours and 7,472 between Thursday and Friday, bringing the country's total infection cases to 130,759.
Meanwhile, the number of deaths in Spain rose by 674 to 12,418 on Saturday, 135 fewer than 809 deaths seen in the previous 24 hours. It means the country has seen the new daily deaths fall for three consecutive days.
Belgium, where confirmed cases neared 20,000, also saw a sign of change in trend. For the first time since the start of the pandemic in the country, the daily number of people cured overtook that of people hospitalized.
The public health institute Sciensano, in charge of monitoring and analyzing the COVID-19 data, reported that in the past 24 hours, 499 COVID-19 patients have been hospitalized while 504 people have left the hospital.
NO LETUP IN ANTI-VIRUS EFFORTS
Borrelli, the head of Italy's Civil Protection Department, has put the measurable results down to the nationwide quarantine. But he warned against complacency.
"It is still essential for residents to continue to stay at home and to leave only for the proven needs allowed" under quarantine rules, he said.
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.
In Spain, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, at a televised press conference on Saturday, said he would ask the parliament to extend the State of Alarm, which was imposed on March 14 and due to expire on April 12, until "24 hours on April 25."
Sanchez said the continued fall in the number of new cases showed that the lockdown imposed on Spain and other measures were "giving their reward but that Spain needed "to maintain the same discipline and the same tenacity."
In the Netherlands, where the total number of confirmed cases grew by 1,224 to 17,851 as of Sunday, the government urged people to stay home as much as possible during the weekend despite the sunny spring weather.