ROME

Italy on Tuesday reported 172 new fatalities from coronavirus, bringing the death toll to 30,911, as the government kept fighting over measures to handle the pandemic’s economic fallout. 

Data released by Italy’s Civil Protection Department confirm the peak of the outbreak has been left behind, but experts warn that a relaxation of rules could spark a rebound in the virus, possibly after the summer.

The tally of active infections on Tuesday fell by 1,222, putting the total at 81,266.

Meanwhile, recoveries continued to climb, jumping to 109,039 as more patients left intensive care, easing pressure on Italy’s overwhelmed healthcare system.

The epicenter of the Italian outbreak remains the northern Lombardy region, where fatalities have kept rising to reach 15,116, almost half of the country’s total deaths.

The lockdown measures were partially relaxed starting on May 4 and are scheduled to be further eased in gradual steps: first on May 18 for retailers, and on June 1 for bars and restaurants. Schools will stay closed until September, while travel between regions – except for justified reasons – is still banned.

Meanwhile, the government is under deep pressure to deliver a new package of economic measures, worth up to €55 billion ($60 billion), which should include new liquidity for struggling firms and welfare support for citizens hit hard by the emergency.

A much-awaited Cabinet meeting scheduled for Monday to approve the measures was postponed and not rescheduled yet for Tuesday, confirming the deep divisions within Italy’s fragile government coalition over the economic package.

The most divisive issue regards the regularization of migrants working in Italy off the books, which are heavily exploited, especially in the agricultural sector. Some coalition parties, including members of the ruling Five-Star Movement, oppose the measure.

The government is also struggling to find all the financial resources needed to fund this costly economic plan. 

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