Italy, Spain showing signs of downward coronavirus trends

Tim O'Donnell

Both countries are far from out of the woods, but Italy and Spain have reported some encouraging novel coronavirus trends over the last few days.

Italy continues to see daily increases in new COVID-19 infections and fatalities, but the rate is slowing. While there was a slight uptick in new cases Saturday from the day before, the daily average appears to have mostly plateaued, signaling the country's lockdown which started on March 9 has been at least somewhat effective. The number of deaths also dropped from previous days, though the total — 681 — was again quite high. Deaths will continue to lag behind the infection rate, so another spike remains possible, but the country may be past its peak.



Perhaps the most positive news from Italy is the announcement that the number of patients in intensive care throughout the country's health care system declined for the first time since the outbreak began in February.

Spain, for the first time, overtook Italy as the European country with the highest number of new cases Friday, and it is still overwhelmed by new infections and deaths. Yet Maria Jose Sierra, the deputy head of Spain's health agency, said the figures "confirm the downward trend we have seen in the last few days." Two weeks ago, Spain saw a 20 percent increase in daily deaths, while on Saturday the amount rose by just 7 percent from the previous day. But with the understanding that there's still a long way to go — and that there are likely a large amount of undetected, mild cases — Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez extended lockdown measures for another 15 days until April 26. Read more about Spain and Italy at Reuters.

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