THE Italian government has announced plans today for ending its nation-wide lockdown after the coronavirus-ravaged country recorded its lowest daily death toll for more than two weeks.
There is a growing sense in Italy that the worst may have passed. The weeks of locking down the country, centre of the world’s deadliest coronavirus outbreak, may be starting to pay off, as officials announced this week that the numbers of new infections had plateaued.
That glimmer of hope has turned the conversation to the daunting challenge of when and how to reopen without setting off another cataclysmic wave of contagion. To do so, Italian health officials and some politicians have focused on an idea that might once have been relegated to the realm of dystopian novels and science fiction films.
From an ethical perspective, she argued, the question of using antibodies as a basis for free movement reconciles a utilitarian vision of what is best for society with respect for individual humanity by protecting “the most fragile, not marginalising them.”
“It’s not discriminating,” she said. “It’s protecting.”
Scientists in Italy, like their counterparts in Germany, the United States, China and beyond, are already studying whether antibodies are a potential source of protection or immunity from the virus.
Rome recorded another 525 deaths, taking its total to 15,887 – the highest of any country in the world – however, this marked its lowest daily increase since the 427 registered on March 19.
The number of people in intensive care in Italy (3,977), fell by 17 since Friday, and the number of cases rose to 128,948 from yesterday’s 124,632, a lower increase than the day before. The national lockdown, strictly limiting people’s movements and freezing on all non-essential economic activity, will officially last until at least April 13 but it is widely expected to be extended.
However, it is believed a relaxation of the lockdown rules will be announced very shortly.
Earlier on Sunday Health Minister Roberto Speranza outlined plans for broader testing and boosted health services as part of a package of measures intended to ease Italy’s lockdown, imposed since March 9.