As a national lockdown to fight the coronavirus pandemic is drawing to a close, Italy on Saturday posted a decrease in new infections, according to the latest numbers released by the Civil Protection Department.

The number of new infections was 1,900 in the last 24 hours, a drop from Friday's figure, bringing the total number of infections, fatalities, and recoveries to 209,328, Xinhua reported. There were 1,665 additional recoveries, raising that total to 79,914.

Pandemic first broke out in Lombardy

The death toll registered on Saturday was 474, bringing the total to 28,710 since the pandemic first broke out in the northern Lombardy region on February 21. Of those infected, 1,539 are in intensive care (down by 39 patients compared to Friday) and 17,357 are hospitalized with symptoms (down by 212 patients). The rest, or 81 percent of those who tested positive, are in isolation at home.

Italy shutdown
Twitter/Antonello Guerrera

The national lockdown, which went into effect on March 10, will end on May 3. Speaking at a nationally televised press conference earlier in the day, Extraordinary Commissioner for the Coronavirus Emergency Domenico Arcuri explained what lies ahead after the lockdown, in what the government has dubbed Phase Two. "We must all be aware that on May 4, an even tougher challenge begins," said Arcuri.

Second half compared to a football match

He compared Phase Two to "the second half of a football match, and as we all understand by now, nobody knows how long it will last or how it will end."

"The relative freedom we are each about to gain must be ruled in the service of protecting the health of all," Arcuri said. "We have distributed 26.7 million masks over the past week to regional authorities across Italy, with a total of 165.5 million masks distributed since the beginning of emergency," said the commissioner.

Arcuri added that in May there will be a distribution of 12 million masks a day, and that this number will rise to 18 million a day in June, 25 million in July-August, and 30 million by the time schools open in September.