Italy on Tuesday reported 19,350 new cases of the novel coronavirus, up 18% from a day before, as more swab tests were executed in the past 24 hours.

Despite the daily rise in the number of new infections, experts confirmed that the general trend seen in the past two weeks shows that the contagion curve is decelerating.

According to the latest Health Ministry data, the country recorded 785 new deaths, up from 672 on Monday – bringing the national death toll to 56,361, the second-highest in Europe after the UK.

The infection rate, however, showed a further drop at around 10.6%, far from the peak at over 17% seen two weeks ago. That means that the virus is still circulating, but at a much slower pace.

Authorities have warned citizens against lowering their guard, asking them to also follow safety measures during the holiday season.

After struggling to contain the second wave of the pandemic, the government is hammering out stricter measures for the holiday season in a bid to allow people to celebrate with their closest relatives, without risking a third wave of infections early next year.

The government decision to keep ski slopes closed during the holidays has sparked controversy with Italy’s alpine regions, which base their economy on winter tourism and see the peak of the skiing season around Christmas.

Italian Health Minister Roberto Speranza will unveil the country’s vaccine plan in parliament on Wednesday, when he should also provide details on the new holiday measures.

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