- However, the COVID-19 virus is losing its potency, according to two senior doctors in northern Italy.
- Alberto Zangrillo, who heads a Milan hospital, said: "In reality, the virus clinically no longer exists in Italy."
- A leading doctor in Genoa said: "The strength the virus had two months ago is not the same strength it has today."
- Italy's hospitalitity, leisure, and tourist sectors are re-opening after weeks of strict lockdown measures.
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The coronavirus is losing its' lethality and is now much less potent than it was at the beginning of global outbreak, according to Italian doctors.
Alberto Zangrillo, who heads Milan's San Raffaele Hospital in the badly-hit northern region of Lombardy, told Italian television on Sunday: "In reality, the virus clinically no longer exists in Italy."
He said: "The swabs that were performed over the last 10 days showed a viral load in quantitative terms that was absolutely infinitesimal compared to the ones carried out a month or two months ago."
Zangrillo urged Giuseppe Conte's Italian government to continue lifting lockdown measures, claiming that warnings of a potential second wave of the virus were creating unnecessary fear in Italy.
"We've got to get back to being a normal country," he said.
"Someone has to take responsibility for terrorizing the country."
Reuters also quoted the head of San Martino Hospital's infectious diseases clinic in the city of Genoa, northwest Italy, who agreed with Zangrillo that the coronavirus was not as lethal as it used to be.
Matteo Bassetti told Italian press: "The strength the virus had two months ago is not the same strength it has today.
"It is clear that today the COVID-19 disease is different."
Italy has one of the world's highest COVID-19 death tolls, with 33,415 people having died after catching the highly-infectious disease as of Monday morning. The true number is believed to be significantly higher.
However, the number of confirmed daily new cases in the country has dropped from a peak of around 6,500 in March to around 300 a day at the end of May.
Sandra Zampa, a health minister in Prime Minister Conte's government, said there was insufficient evidence to back up these claims, and urged Italians to continue following social distancing rules with "maximum caution."
"Pending scientific evidence to support the thesis that the virus has disappeared... I would invite those who say they are sure of it not to confuse Italians," Zampa said in a statement.
"We should instead invite Italians to maintain the maximum caution, maintain physical distancing, avoid large groups, to frequently wash their hands and to wear masks."
Conte's government is gradually re-opening Italy's society and economy after weeks of strict lockdown measures.
Last month the country's hospitality industry re-opened, with restaurants, bars, and cafes opening their doors to the public for the first time in several weeks. As did leisure facilities like gyms, sports centres, and swimming pools.
From this week travel in and out of Italy will resume, with visitors from other EU member states no longer required to self-isolate for two weeks. Cinemas and theatres in Italy are set to re-open later this month.
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