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Number of critical patients in Italy drops for first time during virus crisis

The country glimpsed a possible light at the end of the tunnel Saturday when it saw its first drop in severely ill patients since the pandemic began.

Updated: April 4, 2020 - 9:19pm

Italy breathed an extremely cautious sigh of relief on Saturday when the country posted its first drop in critical patients since the coronavirus outbreak began, a welcome sign for a nation that has been brought to its knees by the relentless spread of COVID-19 in its borders. 

Civil protection service chief Angelo Borrelli called the drop a "very important data point" as it indicated a possible turn in the country's desperate fight against the disease, which has particularly ravaged the northern part of the nation, including the Lombardy region.

The relatively small decrease in critically ill patients---from 4,068 to 3,994, a drop of 74 patients---underscored the severity of the pandemic, which has spiraled upward seemingly without end for the past month. Over 15,300 Italians are recorded as dying from COVID-19, the highest official tally in the world. 

Speculation regarding the disease's brutal fatality rate in that country have ranged from an older average population, to Italy's well-known numbers of tobacco users, even to social conventions such as kisses on the cheek during greetings. 

The country has been on a nationwide lockdown for weeks, with some regional restrictions even going so far as to ban jogging. 

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