Italy Over The Hump? Decline In New Cases, Deaths Suggests Lockdown Is Working

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by Tyler Durden
Wednesday, Mar 25, 2020 - 02:20 PM

Italy has been by far the hardest hit developed nation as the novel coronavirus spreads across the world, with really only Iran ranking as a more severe outbreak, while outbreaks in Spain and France are rapidly accelerating and threaten to soon join Italy among the nations desperately in need of aid from Brussels.

But as the Europeans dawdle over their aid package, Italy is finally seeing some signs that the strict national lockdown, an unprecedented and unparalleled step among western nations, might actually be working, offering some hope to Spain and France, who followed Italy with restrictions of varying severity, which they hope will turn back the tide of newly diagnosed cases.

Italy reported 5,210 new cases of the coronavirus on Wednesday, compared with 5,249 a day earlier, as the growth rate of new infections declined after nearly three weeks of lockdown measures.

Fatalities from the disease over the past 24 hours totaled 683, compared with 743 on Tuesday, according to figures from Italy's Civil Protection Agency.

Though the number of new deaths was down 9%, the mortality rate in the country remained steady at just shy of 10%, the highest among  countries with more than 1,000 confirmed cases of the virus, except Iran.

Across Italy, the number of confirmed cases in the country now stands at 74,386, according to Bloomberg.

The news came as the government worked to broaden rules that shield companies from hostile takeovers as the virus takes a heavy toll on the economy.

Italy has been under an incrementally tightening lockdown since early March, and the government on Wednesday extended measures limiting mobility to April 3.

As Italian authorities have increased penalties for individuals, video show Italian tourist attractions remain virtually deserted as travel bans and the lockdown continue.

However, as some scientists pointed out in an editorial published in the Wall Street Journal, the actual mortality rate in Italy might be much smaller than reported if, as some scientists contend, the number of infected is actually much higher than scientists understand, something that's unlikely to change even as testing capacity improves.

Next, the northeastern Italian town of Vò, near the provincial capital of Padua. On March 6, all 3,300 people of Vò were tested, and 90 were positive, a prevalence of 2.7%. Applying that prevalence to the whole province (population 955,000), which had 198 reported cases, suggests there were actually 26,000 infections at that time. That’s more than 130-fold the number of actual reported cases. Since Italy’s case fatality rate of 8% is estimated using the confirmed cases, the real fatality rate could in fact be closer to 0.06%.

It's just one more thing to think about.