Italy sees second successive drop in virus deaths

The Mediterranean country has now seen its daily fatalities come down from a world record 793 on Saturday to 651 on Sunday and 601 on Monday. (File/AFP)
Short Url
Updated 24 March 2020

Italy sees second successive drop in virus deaths

  • The number of new declared infections fell from 6,557 on Saturday to 4,789 on Monday
  • Italy is on the frontline of a war against a disease being fought by means that currently restrict freedoms and devastate economies

ROME: Italy reported a second successive drop in daily deaths and infections from a coronavirus that has nevertheless claimed more than 6,000 lives in a month.
The Mediterranean country has now seen its daily fatalities come down from a world record 793 on Saturday to 651 on Sunday and 601 on Monday.
The number of new declared infections fell from 6,557 on Saturday to 4,789 on Monday.
The top medical officer for Milan’s devastated Lombardy region appeared on television smiling for the first time in many weeks.
“We cannot declare victory just yet,” Giulio Gallera said.
“But there is light at the end of the tunnel.”
Italy’s National Health Institute (ISS) chief Silvio Brusaferro was more guarded.
“These are positive numbers but I do not have the courage to firmly state that there is a downward trend,” the medical expert told reporters.
Germany announced on Monday that it had accepted the Italian government’s request to care for some of the sick, with six patients to be transferred to hospitals in Dresden and Leipzig, in the eastern state of Saxony.
Italians will desperately hope that weeks of living under a lockdown in which even a jog in the park was eventually banned was the price worth paying for beating back the new disease.
Saturday’s record toll was followed by a late-night address to the nation in which Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced the additional closure of “non-essential” factories.
His government also banned travel to help a country that turned into the new epicenter of the pandemic last week get through a critical stretch in which restrictions are supposed to finally show results.
“Now more than ever, everyone’s commitment is needed,” Health Minister Roberto Speranza said after Monday’s figures came out.
Italy’s toll now stands at 6,077 — more than that of China and third-placed Spain combined.

Italy has sacrificed its economy and liberties by closing and banning almost everything to halt the spread of a virus the government views as an existential threat.
The nation has rallied around its exhausted doctors and tried to deal with life under a state of emergency with humor and grace.
Entire city blocks have organized balcony parties with nightly DJs. There have been singalongs and synchronized rounds of applause.
But Italians’ nerves were clearly starting to fray and the pushback on social media against the ever-changing rules and tightening regulations was getting strong.
Twitter posts went viral ridiculing mayors and regional chiefs who threatened to jail joggers and fine people for walking their dogs too far from their homes.
The government’s new partial ban of seemingly random industries added to an air of confusion in the face of a disease Conte has called Italy’s biggest disaster since World War II.
Auto part makers were allowed to stay open but steel mills were shut. News stands could still operate but book stores could not.
The reality is that Conte’s team is running out of things to close or ban.
Other nations are also watching the Italian numbers to see if Conte’s ban-everything tactics work.
Italy is on the frontline of a war against a disease being fought by means that currently restrict freedoms and devastate economies.
Some are starting to openly ask if this price is too high — even as the global death toll soars.
Officials pleaded with the nation of 60 million — people accustomed to celebrating life outdoors deep into the night — to sacrifice individual liberties for the common good for two weeks.
Serie A side Napoli on Monday delayed the resumption of training, while international wine fair Vinitaly — held annually in Verona — was further postponed until next year.
The initial restrictions placed on the northern epicenter of the pandemic around Milan expired on Sunday and the national measures are set to end on Wednesday.
Conte indicated last week that he might need to extend the restrictions indefinitely.
His decision is expected within days.
“If everyone — and I stress everyone — respects our bans, we will emerge from this very difficult test first,” Conte said on Monday.


Muslims in Italy follow rules while celebrating Eid Al-Fitr

Updated 2 min 41 sec ago

Muslims in Italy follow rules while celebrating Eid Al-Fitr

  • Italian media reported that Muslims gathered to perform Eid prayers in compliance with anti-coronavirus measures

ROME: Italy’s Muslims gathered in parks and public squares to celebrate the end of Ramadan, as many of the country’s mosques remained shut because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Islamic places of worship have been going slow on welcoming back congregations, despite an easing of a months-long lockdown, in order to guarantee social distancing and other preventive steps required under an agreement between Muslim communities and the government.

Mosques and prayer rooms will have to respect the same strict rules which have been imposed on Catholic churches. Halls will have to be sanitized before and after every prayer and a maximum of 200 people will be allowed, even in the biggest places of worship. For outdoor prayers a limit of 1,000 people has been set and each worshipper must be spaced at least one meter apart from the next. Those with a temperature above 37.5 degrees cannot enter.

Italian media reported that Muslims gathered to perform Eid prayers in compliance with anti-coronavirus measures.

“Happy Eid Al-Fitr to all Muslims in Italy as they have two reasons to celebrate,” Yassine Lafram, president of the Union of Islamic Communities in Italy (UCOII), said in a message. 

“This is not the only festivity closing the holy month of Ramadan, it matters even more to us all this year in Italy as it finally marks the return of our faithful to the mosque after several months of lockdown due to coronavirus. The Muslim faithful all over Italy now pray to God to accept the fasts, prayers and every good deed carried out during this holy  month and bring peace and blessing to our homes, so that phase two in the fight against COVID-19 in Italy will start in the best way possible.”

Many Muslims celebrated Eid at home with immediate family members. Those who decided to meet and pray together outside their households did it while “strictly respecting” health protocols and social distancing to avoid risk of infection, UCOII said. The organization asked people to display the same “utmost prudence and responsibility” when entering every place of worship from now on.

At Milan’s Al-Wahid Mosque Imam Yahya Sergio Pallavicini set up spacing for 140 new prayer mats. There are different entry and exit points for men and women, along with dedicated courtyards. 

Sanitization is carried out regularly while detergents, disinfecting gel and personal protective equipment are being offered by city authorities. “We pray for the inner and outer health of believers and Italian people,” Pallavicini said at the start of Eid prayers.

Almost 200 people gathered to pray in Rome’s Piazza Vittorio Emanuele. Muslims arranged their prayer mats and moved about in line with social distancing rules. Posters in Italian and Arabic told people that hugging was not allowed. 

“Even if we are in an outside space, nobody has to get too close,” the imam told his flock before prayers commenced. “It is mandatory and for the sake of everyone’s health.” There were children in the congregation too, and everyone wore face masks.

“I am so happy that I am finally meeting my friends for this prayer, but we have to stay apart,” 13-year-old Samir told Arab News. “We will have time to embrace, to play together in the future, when the virus will be gone.” He said he had missed going to his mosque, near Furio Camillo station, during the lockdown. 

“I prayed with my father, of course we were following prayers on YouTube and on Facebook. But it was not the same. Here I really feel part of a group sharing a faith. And it is great to be together again,” he added.

In Piazza Re di Roma, in the southern part of the city center, 250 Muslims gathered to pray. “We just prayed together, and stayed in the square for an hour only,” 31-year-old Latif told Arab News. “The celebration will be with our families later on.”

An outdoor celebration took place in the Sicilian capital Palermo with Mayor Leoluca Orlando also joining in. “We are happy for this celebration which marks another sign of the return to normality of our communities,” he told Arab News. “Being able to pray together is one of the most important needs for a religion as that improves the sense of community. Now we can do it again together: and that’s a great sign not only for the Muslim community but for the entire population of Palermo.”