Italy recorded 156 new deaths from the COVID-19 epidemic on Thursday, against 161 the day before, the Civil Protection Agency said, while the daily tally of new cases also declined slightly to 642 from 665 on Wednesday.
The total death toll 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 people requiring hospitalisation is now below 10,000; it had reached 33,000 at the peak of the crisis. Italy has not recorded four digit hospitalisations since 14th March.
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.
Health workers and care providers in northern Italy are outraged by regional budget limits which they say have cut into payments despite a surge in work during the coronavirus emergency.
“When I received the message from Bergamo health services, I started crying,” said Maura Zucchelli, a partner in Itineris, a private contractor that provides home care support in the area near the Lombardy town of Bergamo.
“Basically they told us, in the first quarter you’ve gone over budget so we’re not paying you.”
Lombardy regional authorities did not respond to requests for comment.
Under normal budget rules, when private providers exceed a fixed budget, Lombardy authorities reduce funding to 40%. Once the budget excess goes beyond 6%, they stop funding altogether.