The northern Italian region of Lombardy, the one-time epicentre of the country’s coronavirus pandemic, has seen notable improvement in its COVID-19 data recently.
The region that includes the Italian financial centre of Milan, is home to around one-sixth of Italy’s population of more than 60 million.
It reached a positive milestone on Sunday: no single death from the COVID-19 in the region and just 33 new infections. On Monday, cases rose slightly with 56 new cases and eight deaths.
But for a region that has seen nearly half of Italy’s total COVID-19 mortalities — 16,796 of the country’s 35,058 total deaths — Sunday’s low totals were praised by Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte and Minister of Health Roberto Speranza, as well as Lombardy Regional President Attilio Fontana.
The recent positive developments in Lombardy mirrored those on a national level. On Monday, Italy recorded just 13 deaths; the day before, only three.
There were just 190 new infections nationally on Monday, down from 219 a day earlier.
It has now been nearly two weeks since Italy had more than 30 COVID-19 deaths in a day, more than a month since it had more than 50, and it has not recorded more than 100 since May 30.
But despite the positive trends, officials urged caution, noting that while Italy has made great strides in curbing the spread of the coronavirus, the country still remained at risk. “We need to be patient and prudent,” Speranza said.
Walter Ricciardi, senior advisor at the Ministry of Health, on Monday called for the government to step up testing even as the numbers improve, adding the government should be ready to “act quickly” at the first sign of a new wave of infections.
Over the last two weeks, Italy has seen a handful of isolated COVID-19 clusters and the overall infection rates have inched marginally higher than their lowest points during the pandemic in late June.
But measures taken to halt further spread have so far proved effective.