Italy's number of deaths from the novel coronavirus exceeded 20,000 on Monday, but the number of critically ill patients declined for the 10th day in a row.
The 566 new deaths reported by the Civil Protection Service result in a total of 20,465 deaths in Italy – officially number two worldwide behind the United States.
The decline in intensive care patients from 4,068 on April 3 to 3,260 on Monday confirmed a general improvement in COVID-19 trends in Italy.
The rise in new infections fell to a new low of just two percent.
However, a leading Italian infectious disease expert said the data was difficult to read because new cases could have occurred up to three weeks ago due to the incubation period.
"The time between the moment of infection and the moment we receive the data can be 20 days," Giovanni Rezza of the ISS Public Health Institute told reporters.
"So if you read that there are 300 new cases, those cases were infections acquired 20 days ago."
The Mediterranean country extended its national block until May 3 last week.
The decision was supported by doctors, but rejected by companies that doubt they could survive three weeks idle.
"There are positive signs, but the number of deaths is still high," said Rezza.
Italy will try reopening some bookstores and laundries on Tuesday to see how social distancing measures can be safely enforced later.
A study published by the Italian Central Bank's research institute on Monday found that a two-month shutdown could reduce the country's annual economic output by up to 11 percent.
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