New coronavirus cases in Italy fall to 25-day low

Confidence is quietly growing that the virus may be retreating, as football officials decry call for four-month pay cut.

Italy corona patient - reuters
The number of coronavirus patients in intensive care in Italy has declined for four days in a row [Flavio Lo Scalzo/Reuters]

Coronavirus deaths in Italy rose by 604 on Tuesday, a lower daily toll than the 636 seen the day before, while the number of new cases posted the smallest increase since March 13.

The total death toll in the world’s hardest-hit country since its outbreak came to light on February 21 rose to 17,127, the Civil Protection Agency said.

The total of confirmed cases increased by 3,039 on Tuesday to 135,586, a second successive daily decline, underscoring growing confidence that the illness is on the retreat thanks to a nationwide lockdown introduced on March 9.

New cases rose by 3,599 on Monday. Previous daily increases since March 17 had all been in a range of 4,050-6,557.

Of those originally infected, 24,392 were declared recovered on Tuesday against 22,837 a day earlier. There were 3,792 people in intensive care against 3,898 on Monday – a fourth consecutive daily decline.

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Meanwhile, the nation’s football coaches have joined their players in criticising their top-flight league’s recommendation that clubs impose wage cuts of two to four months’ pay during the coronavirus outbreak.

Renzo Ulivieri, president of the Italian coaches’ association (AIAC), said Serie A’s announcement was overbearing, and that reductions were inadmissible for lower-ranked coaching staff who, in some cases, earn below the national average wage.

On Monday, Serie A proposed cutting annual wages by one-third if the competition – which has been suspended since March 9 – was unable to resume this season, and by one-sixth if it was able to restart. It added that each club would have to negotiate the cuts with its coaching and playing staff.

“The declaration of the Serie A League seems improvised to us because we still don’t know what will happen to the championships,” Ulivieri said in a statement.

“We would like to avoid controversy because it is not the time. But the tone of the statement, which seems overbearing, is obviously not to our liking.”

Ulivieri said that, while Italy‘s top coaches had already said they were willing to contribute with wage reductions, it was a different story for many lower-paid assistants and other members of coaching staff.

“It should be remembered, that there are ‘other’ coaches, instructors, trainers and collaborators employed by football clubs who have merely working incomes, sometimes even below the national average,” said Ulivieri.

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“On these incomes, it is inadmissible to think of any reduction.”

Al Jazeera sports correspondent Lee Wellings noted that sports clubs around the world were facing “a new financial reality”.

“Football leagues and clubs across Europe and the globe have started to properly respond to a new financial future, ” he said.

“But it’s a picture that’s only starting to form, and consensus will be hard to reach. The people who govern football appear to be seeking least-worst solutions. 

“Italy has been hit particularly hard by this pandemic, and it’s not surprising drastic measures are being taken. The glory days of Serie A are long gone and the riches aren’t there. But the decision has been badly received by players’ representatives. As with England and the Premier League, the sound of dissent will continue, despite the horrors unfolding.”

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies