With Italy's coronavirus struggle now in its sixth week, questions are being raised about what happens once the lockdown ends as scheduled on April 13. There appear to be signs that, although still high, the number of deaths and new infections has reached a plateau.
That has brought new hope to exasperated Italians who were told this week by Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte that they must intensify lockdown efforts until the 13th, to help ensure the country can turn the corner in its fight against the deadly virus.
About 115,242 cases have been confirmed in Italy. Nearly 14,000 people have died, according to Johns Hopkins University, which is tracking the number of cases worldwide.
Agostino Miozzo, deputy head of the Civil Protection Department in charge of managing the pandemic in Italy, said no one in the world was sufficiently prepared to deal with COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.
He said the disease can only be fought if one is prepared with a system adequately organized to guarantee health assistance to all who need it.
For the time being and until a vaccine is found and tested, which will take months, Miozzo said, the only way to control the spread of COVID-19 is through social distancing.
He said staying isolated is the best way to flatten the curve and reduce the risk of infections. Even when that curve is on its way down, he added, people will not be able to return to the lives they were used to before the outbreak. The post-emergency world will be very complicated, Miozzo said, with authorities having to make tough decisions to prevent that curve from rising again.