ROME

Italy on Sunday reported 174 new fatalities from the novel coronavirus, bringing the total to 28,884, on the eve of the Phase 2 of the emergency.

The data released by the Italian Civil Protection Department confirmed that the country overcame the peak of the emergency, a day before a partial lifting of the nationwide lockdown.

The tally of active infections fell by 525 and now stands at 100,179.

Meanwhile, recoveries continued to climb, jumping to a record 81,654 as more patients left intensive care, easing pressure on Italy’s struggling healthcare system.

The epicenter of the Italian outbreak remains the northern Lombardy region, where fatalities keep rising, reaching 14,231, almost half of the country’s total deaths.

Italy’s emergency commissioner Domenico Arcuri on Saturday called on Italians not to lower their guards as they prepare to exit the almost-total lockdown imposed by the government to contain the virus’ spread.

Under the new softer rules, Italian citizens will be allowed to visit relatives and to move more freely within each region. Some strategic businesses will restart activities and more than 4 million workers will come back to their jobs, but under stringer security protocols.

Schools, hairdressers, gyms and many other commercial activities, however, will stay closed. Cafes and restaurants will offer takeaways only, and all travel between regions will be banned except for work, health or emergency situations.

Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte has warned that scientists will be closely monitoring the contagion curve during the Phase 2 and regions may reintroduce stricter rules locally if the infections rise again.

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