Rome, April 12 (IANS) The coronavirus pandemic has claimed 19,468 lives in locked-down Italy, bringing the total number of infections, fatalities and recoveries so far to 152,271, according to the latest data released by the country's Civil Protection Department.
Addressing a televised press conference on Saturday, Civil Protection Department Chief Angelo Borrelli said fatalities grew by 619 on a daily basis, while active infections increased by 1,996 to 100,269, Xinhua news agency reported.
Meanwhile, 2,079 new recoveries were registered over the last 24 hours, bringing its total to 32,534.
Of those who have tested positive, 28,144 people are currently hospitalized (98 fewer than the previous day), 3,381 are in intensive care (116 fewer), and 68,744 are isolated at home, Borrelli said.
Earlier in the same day, Extraordinary Commissioner for the Coronavirus Emergency Domenico Arcuri provided some updates in a separate press conference.
He explained a new COVID-(19)-centre would be set up within military hospital Celio in the Italian capital, in cooperation with Defence Ministry and the government of the Lazio region, the region that includes the Italian capital of Rome.
This new structure will add to the other COVID-19 hospitals already active across Italy, and will receive the first ventilators for coronavirus patients in the next days, according to Arcuri.
The commissioner also warned about underestimating risks of the pandemic now that some trends were slowing down.
"This dramatic emergency will finally be behind us only after an effective vaccine is discovered," Arcuri stressed.
"Without it, there is only one antidote left: our behaviour, which must all work in the direction of preventing and containing contagion."
On this regard, the Interior Ministry issued a stern notice on the eve of Easter festivities, which for Italians would especially coincide with open-air trips and family lunches in normal times.
"Police controls have been strengthened across the territory, and especially in the perspective of the weekend over Easter holidays (Sunday and Monday)," the ministry said in a statement on Saturday.
From March 11 (the day after the national lockdown effectively entered into force) up to April 10, law enforcement forces checked 6,482,141 people and 2,681,184 business activities, according to ministerial data.
In an interview with local media, Interior Minister Luciana Lamorgese sounded quite satisfied with the Italians' compliance with the restrictive rules imposed for the emergency, saying sanctions for violating restrictions have been just a little more than 220,000 from March 11 to April 9.
"These numbers show the large majority of Italians have understood the severity of the emergency," she added.
Also on Saturday, delivering a traditional greeting message ahead of Easter, President Sergio Mattarella encouraged Italians to "nurture hope and faith" despite the current difficulties.
He acknowledged this year's festivity would be very different from usual, due to the many "broken stories and affections torn apart, often suddenly" by the pandemic.
"Yet, in these days we are also seeing the tangible possibility of overcoming this emergency," Mattarella stressed.
"We are about to win the fight against the virus or -- at the very least -- to reduce its danger as much as possible, waiting for specific drugs and a vaccine that would completely defeat it," said the president.
On April 10, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced the government's decision to extend the end of the national lockdown from April 13 to May 3.
Partial concessions were however planned, with children goods stores, bookshops, and stationery shops allowed to reopen starting from April 14.