Italian Prime Minister has said late Monday that it was early for the country to lift measures against the novel coronavirus and return to normalcy.

Giuseppe Conte’s remarks came during a visit to the northern Lombardy region, the hardest-hit area by the virus, with over 13,000 deaths.

Speaking to the press, Conte detailed the “second phase” of the period under transition measures, which will start on May 4 and allow some key businesses to restart after seven weeks of inactivity.

“Everyone hoped to return to normalcy soon but there are no conditions to return to normal, we have to say it clearly and loudly,” Conte said.

On Sunday, Conte announced the start of “phase 2” of the coronavirus outbreak in Italy.

Conte warned the Italians, however, that relaxing the lockdown will not mean the end of key social distancing rules which are necessary to avoid a new surge in the contagion curve.

People’s movements within all regions will still be limited due to strict health, emergency, and working reasons.

Italy, one of the worst-hit countries in Europe by the coronavirus, reported 333 new deaths, bringing its tally to 26,977, and a new drop in active infections.

The number of confirmed cases worldwide has now surpassed 3.04 million, while the death toll is above 211,200 and nearly 895,000 have recovered, according to data compiled by US-based Johns Hopkins University.

Despite the rising number of cases, most people who contract the virus suffer only mild symptoms before making a recovery.

*Writing by Handan Kazanci in Istanbul.

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