Sun, 09 Aug 2020

ROME, July 3 (Xinhua) -- Active coronavirus infections in Italy dropped to 14,884 on Friday from 15,060 a day earlier, the Health Ministry stated in its daily bulletin.

It marked the lowest figure since March 13, according to official statistics.

Of all those actively infected, the vast majority, or 13,849, are isolated at home because they are asymptomatic or with mild symptoms, while 956 patients are hospitalized with symptoms, and 79 are in intensive care units.

However, the total number of COVID-19 cases overall assessed in the country grew by 223 to 241,184 compared to the previous day, the ministry said.

Totally 15 new fatalities were registered over the last 24 hours, which brought the country's death toll to 34,833.

Those recovered since the pandemic broke out in the northern regions on Feb. 21 have reached 191,467.

"The battle is not over yet, but numbers show us the (pandemic) curve has been significantly bending," Health Minister Roberto Speranza was quoted by Ansa news agency as saying.

In related news on Friday, Technological Innovation and Digitization Minister Paola Pisano said about 225,000 households have applied for a holiday bonus since the measure entered into force on Wednesday.

The requests so far would be worth some 100 million euros (112.4 million U.S. dollars), according to the minister.

"Some 1,500 families have already used it (to book their vacation)," she told RAI 3 TV.

The bonus can be applied until the end of this year by households, couples and individuals whose combined annual income does not exceed 40,000 euros, and can be spent in hotels, B&B, holiday farms, tourism resorts, and campsites, according to the Ministry of Economy and Finance.

It was one of the supportive provisions provided by a "Relaunch Decree" passed by the cabinet in May, and meant to help restart the tourism industry, the key to Italy's economy which was hit hard by the restrictions imposed on foreign and domestic travels due to the lockdown.

Also on the economic side of the COVID-19 crisis, Italian Banking Association (ABI) said the number of requests from micro, small, and medium-sized businesses for accessing bank loans backed by the state's guarantee fund grew to 764,000 up to July 2, for an overall amount of 45 billion euros.

Among these, requests for loans up to 30,000 euros were 672,000, worth 13.39 billion euros, according to ABI.

This measure was passed in April to ensure liquidity and favorable bank loans for firms hit by the coronavirus emergency. (1 euro = 1.12 U.S. dollars)

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