World

PM thanks Italians after 3 months of virus

By AAP Newswire

Three months after the outbreak of the coronavirus in Italy, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has praised his compatriots for their discipline in the fight against the pandemic.

"If the worst is behind us, we owe it to the citizens who have changed their lifestyles," Conte said in a speech to the Chamber of Deputies in Rome on Thursday.

However, the challenges of the next few months would be even more difficult, he said, adding Italy must get the troubled economy going while keeping infection rates under control.

To promote the tourism industry, Conte called on Italy's 60 million citizens to holiday in their own country.

However, when he addressed the young people in particular, he warned them that the time was not yet ripe for high spirits, partying and the restart of nightlife: there had recently been reports of celebrations and gatherings of young people.

In addition, Conte demanded more commitment from the banks.

"The banking system can and must do more to provide loans," he said.

Conte announced that Italy would shortly begin testing the planned anti-coronavirus app Immuni. This is intended to make it easier for infected people to located anyone they have contacted.

Italy recorded 156 new deaths from the COVID-19 epidemic on Thursday, against 161 the day before, the Civil Protection Agency said.

The daily tally of new cases also declined slightly to 642 on Thursday from 665 on Wednesday.

The total death toll since the outbreak came to light on February 21 now stands at 32,486, the agency said, the third highest in the world after those of the United States and Britain.

The number of confirmed cases amounts to 228,006, the sixth highest global tally behind those of the United States, Russia, Spain, Britain and Brazil.