Pope Francis has urged Italians not to lower their guard too soon over coronavirus even as infection rates fall, during his Sunday address to hundreds of socially distanced onlookers at the Vatican.
“Be careful. Don’t cry victory too soon,” the Pope told onlookers on Sunday.
The death toll in Italy continues to drop, and the latest figures show 72 people in Italy died on Saturday after contracting COVID-19.
Italy has the fourth highest coronavirus death toll in the world, with 34,000 people dead from the virus behind the U.S. (110,000), the U.K. (40,500), and Brazil (36,000).
Infection rates in the country once at the centre of the global pandemic continue to fall, with new daily cases staying under 500 every day this week, apart from Friday.
But as the country entered the third phase of reopening this week, officials warn that a second wave could be on the way if people travelling between regions breach social distancing rules.
Italy was the first country in the world to lockdown entirely on March 9, paving the way for a raft of other hard-hit nations to do the same. Officials this week lifted travel restrictions between regions, as lockdown restrictions continue to ease. Bars and restaurants, shops, hairdressers, gyms and swimming pools reopened last month, with strict social distancing measures in place. Italy was at one point the centre of the coronavirus outbreak globally, and at its peak saw 919 deaths in one day. But as the death toll and infection rate lowers, so are admissions to intensive care. However, data out on Saturday from Italy’s health ministry shows that the outbreak in the country is still not over, with “active clusters of contagion” across parts of the country.