The number of coronavirus patients in intensive care dropped for the first time in Italy on Saturday, as the country also welcomed its lowest daily increase in deaths in two weeks.
Officials in one of the worst-hit countries credited its strict lockdown, ongoing for nearly a month, for the hopeful trends and stressed the need for residents to continue to stay indoors.
“This is an important piece of news because it allows our hospitals to breathe,” Civil Protection head Angelo Borelli said during a daily news briefing on the virus.
Italy reported 681 COVID-19 deaths Saturday, bringing the total to 15,632. It was the lowest daily rise since March 23 after the outbreak began back on Feb. 21.
The number of patients in severely overburdened intensive care units fell by 74 people to 3,994 from 4,068 on Friday.
The total number of confirmed cases in the country rose from 119,827 to 124,632, but officials believe they’ve managed to stabilize the increase, with hopes that a drop will soon follow.
Countries such as Italy and Spain have undertaken stringent social distancing measures compared to New York, according to new Google data.
In New York state, the epicenter for the United States’ coronavirus outbreak, foot traffic in public parks was down 47 percent and commuters at transit stations were down 68 percent.
Both Italy and Spain recorded drops in those spaces of around 90 percent, the tech giant found.
But some have feared that during the early signs of progress, and with Easter approaching, more Italians have begun flouting the country’s shelter-in-place order, with groups of people spotted on social media walking around some of its major cities.
“Some images spread on social media, which show a relaxation in the behavior of some people — fortunately only a few — should not be taken as an example, they should be deplored,” said Domenico Arcuri, the government’s special commissioner overseeing the coronavirus crisis.
“We can’t have the idea that we’ve already reached the moment to return to normal,” he said.