ROME

Italy on Saturday reported 474 new fatalities from the novel coronavirus, bringing the total to 28,710, while active infections continued to drop.

The data released by the Italian Civil Protection Department confirmed that the country overcame the peak of the emergency, as it prepares for a partial lifting of the nationwide lockdown starting on Monday.

The tally of active infections fell by 239 and now stands at 100,704.

Meanwhile, recoveries continued to climb, jumping to a record 79,914 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 14,189, almost half of the country’s total deaths.

Italy’s emergency commissioner Domenico Arcuri on Saturday begged Italians not to lower their guard as they prepare to exit the two-month lockdown imposed by the government to contain the virus’ spread.

“On Monday, Phase-2 begins. We have to be aware that this is the start of an even bigger challenge,” Arcuri said at a news conference.

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 millions of workers will come back to their jobs.

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.

“We’ve done our bit to the best. From Monday, it will be up to you,” Arcuri said. “I beg you, do not lower your guard.”

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