ROME: Italy’s world-topping toll from the coronavirus pandemic approached 5,500 on Sunday (Mar 22) after the Mediterranean country reported another 651 deaths.

The latest daily toll was smaller than Saturday’s record 793 fatalities but still the second-highest registered during Italy’s month-long crisis.

The number of infections rose by 10.4 per cent to 59,138.

Italy’s death toll now stands at 5,476.

“The figures announced today are lower than those for yesterday,” Italian civil protection service chief Angelo Borrelli told reporters.

“I hope and we all hope that these figures can be borne out in the coming days. But do not let your guard down.”

Sunday’s figures suggest that strict containment measures imposed around the northern epicentre of the crisis near Milan on Mar 8 might be starting to bear fruit.

READ: Italy to extend lockdown measures over virus

Milan’s Lombardy region reported just 30.4 per cent of the new infections on Sunday.

It had been reporting about two-thirds of Italy’s coronavirus deaths throughout the crisis.

The region of 10 million officially registered 55.5 per cent of Sunday’s COVID-19 deaths.

“We must not get too enthusiastic or over-interpret things,” Italian government scientific committee expert Franco Locatelli said.

But “it is a sign that we welcome positively,” he said.

READ: Why Italy? The factors behind a coronavirus disaster

The pandemic has put northern Italy’s world-class healthcare system under massive strain.

Sunday’s figures showed the number of patients receiving intensive care rising above 3,000 for the first time.

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