Italy on Friday reported 827 new deaths from the novel coronavirus, showing that the fatalities caused by the pandemic remain high despite a deceleration in the contagion curve. 

According to the latest Health Ministry data, the country reported 28,352 new cases over the past 24 hours, down 2% from a day before, bringing the total to more than 1.53 million since the start of the outbreak.

With Friday’s daily deaths, the national death toll rose to 53,677, still the second-highest in Europe after the UK.

However, the infection rate continued to hover around 12%, far from the peak at over 17% seen two weeks ago.

Experts stressed the virus is still circulating, but at a much slower pace, while the number of deaths will take longer to show a slowdown.

A positive sign came on Friday from the Health Ministry data monitoring the infection rate across Italy. The data showed that at a national level the contagion rate is still above the crucial threshold of 1, but in at least 10 regions it has fallen below the alert level.

Struggling to contain the second wave of the pandemic, the Italian government is studying new measures for the Christmas period, in a bid to allow people to celebrate with their relatives without risking a third wave of contagion early next year.

The government is expected to approve a new decree in early December, which should include new rules for shops and other business activities, in order to guarantee longer shopping hours for the Christmas holidays and to allow closest relatives to reunite also if they live in different regions.

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