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 epicentre 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.