The Italian region hardest hit by coronavirus has seen a steep decline in the number of deaths and infections but worries are growing that the country’s south could become the next hotspot.
Recent numbers from the northern region of Lombardy suggested the epidemic might be slowing at its epicenter.
But poorer southern parts are seeing a sharp rise in deaths, raising fears the health service could be overwhelmed.
Italy has reported 8,215 deaths from coronavirus and 80,539 confirmed cases.
A four-day trend of a slight decline in the number of cases ended on Thursday when both infections and deaths rose compared to the previous 24-hour reporting period.
Italy is the worst-affected in Europe where almost everything has been closed for over two weeks and people told to stay at home.
In Spain, the second-worst hit European country, the daily death toll fell for the first time in a week, according to the health ministry. There were 655 new deaths in the past 24 hours, bringing the country’s total to 4,089.
On Wednesday, the country’s death toll surpassed that of China where the outbreak began. Meanwhile, the overall number of coronavirus cases in Spain soared to 56,188 from 47,610, a new daily high.
Nursing homes, whose elderly residents are highly vulnerable to the disease, have been particularly hard hit by Covid-19, the disease caused by the virus. A report by Cadena Ser radio network suggested at least 397 deaths had occurred in such places.
Earlier on Thursday, the Spanish parliament extended the restrictions on people’s movements until at least 12 April, with Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez saying: “I’m convinced that the only efficient option to counter the virus is social isolation.”
In other developments:
Russia said it would suspend international flights from Friday, and Moscow would close all shops except for pharmacies and grocery stores from Saturday
Germany’s relatively low death rate was largely due to the high number of tests being carried out, said Christian Drosten, head of the Charite University Hospital’s Institute of Virology in Berlin
In France, where 1,331 deaths have been reported, President Emmanuel Macron said he would call on the army to help the country while a government spokeswoman said the 15-day lockdown measures could be extended, with a final decision expected “in the coming days”