ROME

Italy on Thursday reported 262 more fatalities from the novel coronavirus, bringing the death toll to 31,368 a day after the government approved a much-awaited economic package needed to face the heavy fallout caused by the pandemic.

Data released by the country’s Civil Protection Department confirmed the peak of the outbreak was left behind, with the focus now shifting to the social and economic ramifications of two months in lockdown.

The tally of active infections on Thursday fell by 2,017, placing the total at 76,440.

Meanwhile, recoveries continued to climb, jumping to 115,288 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 15,296, almost half of the country’s total deaths.

The government approved late on Wednesday a new economic aid package worth €55 billion ($59 billion) aimed at helping families and businesses hit by the COVID-19 outbreak.

Originally dubbed The April Decree and now renamed The Relaunch Decree, the massive package has been delayed by deep divisions within the ruling coalition backing Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte’s government.

Analysts noted, however, that the decree had nothing to do with relaunching production and shows that the government has no real plan for Italy’s battered economy.

Critics said the decree did not contain any reform plan or any measure aimed at simplifying administrative procedures that could help economic recovery. Investments capable of supporting firms and entrepreneurs to relaunch their activities were also missing, they noted.

The package includes a vast budget that will be sprayed across multiple sectors and beneficiaries, risking a protracted implementation phase due to legislative and administrative complexity.

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