Italy recorded 355 new coronavirus infections over the last day, the second-lowest figure since early March and a welcome dose of good news as the country gears up to further ease lockdown measures this week, according to the Ministry of Health on Sunday.
Italy has now recorded fewer than 600 new cases per day for eight consecutive days, a dramatic drop from peaks of more than 6,000 new infections a day when Italy was the epicenter of the pandemic in late March.
The northern Italian region of Lombardy remains the area hardest hit by the global outbreak, accounting for 210 of the 355 new cases in the 24-hour period.
The one-day total is down from 416 recorded between Friday and Saturday.
The one-day death toll from COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, was 75, down from 111 announced Saturday. It was the fifth time in seven days the daily death toll was in double-digits -- a level reached just one time in the 11 weeks before that.
Other indicators were also positive: a total of 1,874 people in Italy recovered from COVID-19 in the 24-hour period, while those in intensive care units dropped by 15 to 435, those recovering with symptoms in Italian hospitals fell by 293 to 6,387, and those recovering at home declined to 35,253.
The recent trends show that the spread of the virus has slowed dramatically despite a methodical easing of Italy's national lockdown at two-week intervals, first on May 4 and again on May 18.
The next step toward easing will come this week, on June 3, when Italians will be allowed to move freely between regions even if for non-essential reasons. It will be the first time such travel will be allowed since March 9, the day before the national lockdown entered into force.
The country will also allow arrivals from the 25 other members of Europe's Schengen visa-free area.
It is unclear how many Italians or foreigners will take advantage of the loosened restrictions that are aimed in part to help jump-start the country's massive tourist industry, which has been all but shuttered since March.