Italy was one of the hardest-hit countries amid the coronavirus pandemic. Now, health experts say that the novel coronavirus is losing its potency and has become less deadly.
An Italian health expert and the head of the San Rafaelle Hospital in Milan, Alberto Zangrillo, said that the virus, which causes the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), clinically no longer exists in Italy.
"The swabs that were performed over the last ten days showed a viral load in quantitative terms that was absolutely infinitesimal compared to the ones carried out a month or two months ago," he added.
He also urged the government to continue easing quarantine and lockdown measures, saying that the warnings that the country will have a second wave is sparking panic among residents. Further, he added that the country is now returning to normal.
LOMBARDIA, ITALY - FEBRUARY 26, 2020: Hospital field tent for coronavirus. Image Credit: faboi / Shutterstock
Matteo Bassetti, the head of San Martino Hospital's infectious diseases clinic in Genoa, Italy, agreed that the novel coronavirus, called severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) was not as fatal as it used to be.
"The strength the virus had two months ago is not the same strength it has today. It is clear that today the COVID-19 disease is different, " Bassetti explained.
Italy's case toll
Italy experienced the wrath of COVID-19 in February to March, wherein the cases skyrocketed, making it one of the hardest-hit nations early in the pandemic. Now, the country has recorded a staggering 233,197confirmed cases and 33,475 deaths.
Over the past week, the country's coronavirus infection continued to decline, with 355 new cases on May 31, compared with 416 the previous day. The death toll was 75, down from 111 on May 30.
The coronavirus outbreak in Italy started in February in Lombardy, the wealthy northern Italian province where Milan is located. The government locked down the region to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus and extended it throughout the country two days after.
Three weeks into the lockdown, the effects started to appear. Italy has reported declines in new cases and deaths each day. Though the healthcare system was initially overwhelmed, the country has seen a steady decline in the intensive care unit occupancy.
Now, the government confirmed plans to allow travel between regions starting June 3. Meanwhile, some local governors opposed the plan of letting Italians from Lombardy move freely since it is still the area with the highest ratio of new cases.
Visitors from other European Union member states are no longer required to self-isolate for two weeks.
The government has also gradually reopened the country's economy after weeks of strict physical distancing measures. A month ago, the country opened the hospitality industry, with bars, restaurants, and cafes opening for customers for the first time in weeks.
Also, fitness gyms, swimming pools, and sports centers are now open. Meanwhile, cinemas and theaters are set to open later this month.
The government said that despite the decreasing number of infections, it was too soon to say that the fight is over.
Sandra Zampa, an undersecretary at the health ministry in Italy, said that it is still unsure that the virus is disappearing.
She urged that there is a need for evidence to support the theory and that all Italians should maintain the maximum caution. She emphasized on the importance of social distancing, avoiding large groups, and to frequently wash their hands and wear masks to prevent infection and contain the virus spread.