Italy's COVID-19 infections continue downward trend, govt mulls reopening inter-region movement

World Saturday 16/May/2020 15:02 PM
By: Times News Service
Italy's COVID-19 infections continue downward trend, govt mulls reopening inter-region movement

ROME: Italy registered 242 new coronavirus fatalities on Friday, bringing the country's death toll to 31,610, out of total infection cases of 223,885, according to the latest data provided by the country's Civil Protection Department.

The number of recoveries rose to 120,205, with an increase of 4,917 compared to Thursday. Nationwide, the number of active infections fell by 4,370 to 72,070, according to the Civil Protection Department.

Of those who tested positive for the coronavirus, 808 are being treated in intensive care, down by 47 compared to Thursday, and 10,792 are hospitalized with symptoms, a decrease of 661 patients over the past 24 hours.

The remaining 60,470 people -- or about 84 percent of those who have tested positive -- are isolated at home without symptoms or with only mild symptoms.

Northwest Lombardy and Piedmont regions remained the hardest hit with 27,746 and 11,113 active cases, respectively, followed by central Emilia Romagna with 6,001, and by northeast Veneto with 4,439.

Plan to reopen inter-regional movement

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte's cabinet is mulling easing of the restrictions on people's movement between regions starting from June 3, local media reported.

The topic was included in a draft decree submitted to a cabinet meeting on Friday.

Under the plan being discussed, moving between regions would be allowed again but would be subject to regional authorities, which could limit it, if they have specific reasons -- linked to the local epidemiological pandemic trend, according to Il Sole 24 ore business daily.

No official announcement came in the day, however, as the cabinet was still trying to harmonize different calls from the various regional governments, some of which (especially in the north) pressed for reopening sooner than June, while others (mostly in the south) remained against it.

All movements between regions have stopped in the country since March 10, when the lockdown entered into force, but for strict necessities such as the need to provide care to non-self-sufficient parents.

According to the same draft, restrictions on people's movements within the region they live in would be lifted starting from May 18.

Requests for stste-backed loans grow

Also on Friday, Italy's Banking Association (ABI) said the number of requests from businesses for accessing loans backed by the state's Guarantee Fund was "strongly on the rise."

"As of May 14, applications to the Guarantee Fund have grown to 212,000, exceeding 10 billion euros (10.8 billion U.S. dollars) in terms of requested loans," ABI stated on Friday.

"Among these, requests for loans up to 25,000 euros were 184,000, worth some 3.87 billion euros overall."

The measure to ensure liquidity and favorable bank loans to firms hit by the coronavirus emergency was contained in a government decree approved in April.

On May 13, the cabinet passed another decree containing new stimulus measures worth 55 billion euros (59.4 billion U.S. dollars) overall, including more than 15 billion in various provisions aimed at enterprises.