Italy on Wednesday reported 117 more fatalities from the novel coronavirus, bringing the death toll to 33,072, as the European Union unveiled its proposal for a recovery fund that would provide Rome with wide resources to face the economic fallout from the pandemic.
The low increase in deaths on Wednesday confirms the slowing trend in the virus outbreak, showing that the peak of the crisis has been left behind.
The tally of active infections on Wednesday fell again, by 1,946, placing the total at 50,996.
Meanwhile, recoveries continued to climb, reaching 147,101, as more patients left intensive care, easing pressure on Italy’s strained health care system.
The northern Lombardy region remains the epicenter of the pandemic, with victims rising to 15,954, almost half of the total.
The European Commission on Wednesday unveiled its €750-billion ($823 billion) recovery fund aimed at helping the weaker EU countries face the coronavirus emergency and its painful economic consequences.
If the plan receives the greenlight from all the 27 member states, Italy will get €172.7 billion in funds, of which about €81 billion will be granted as aid and €91 billion as loans.
The plan – dubbed Next Generation EU – provides “an ambitious answer” to the economic crisis caused by the pandemic, said European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.
Economic Affairs Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni called it “a European turning point to face an unprecedented crisis.”
Two thirds of the money would take the form of grants, while the rest would consist of loans – attached with tougher conditions.
Italy and Spain would each be eligible for around €80 billion in grants. France and Poland would have access to around €38 billion, while Germany could get €28 billion.
The 27 nations, however, remain deeply divided over what conditions should be attached to the funds, and the proposal may trigger a heated debate.
Austria, Denmark, the Netherlands and Sweden – called the “Frugal Four” for their budgetary rigor – are opposing the idea to concede money without any strict condition, and their resistance could derail the overall plan.
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