Italy’s overall death toll from the Chinese coronavirus exceeded 15,000 on Saturday, as another 681 people have died from the disease in just the last 24 hours – an increase of 4.6 percent in one day.

The percentage, however, has been on the decline for the past few days, while Italian officials say they believe that Italy has reached its “peak” and “hospitals are starting to breathe” due to less emergency room admissions.

Newly released data from Italy’s Civil Protection reveals that the country’s death toll from the virus has risen from 14,681 on Friday to 15,362 on Saturday. The total number of confirmed coronavirus cases has also risen from 119,827 to 124,632.

“On the day when the coronavirus recovered toll reaches 20,000 and the death toll exceeds 15,000 – Italy continues to look at a contagion curve that remains stable,” reported La Repubblica on Saturday.

The report added that fewer people are in intensive care, as Italy sees the first drop in coronavirus ICU admissions since the crisis began in the nation.

“Today, for the first time, we have a very important figure,” said the head of Italy’s Civil Protection, Angelo Borrelli during a press conference on Saturday.

“The number of ICU patients decreases by 74 and it is important news because it allows our hospitals to breathe,” he added. “It is the first negative value since we started emergency management.”

Giorgio Guastamacchia, an officer in charge of the escort service for Italian prime minister Giuseppe Conte, has died from the coronavirus, reported La Repubblica on Saturday. The 51-year-old deputy commissioner of the State Police died after contracting the Wuhan virus a few weeks ago. He was immediately hospitalized and intubated. Guastamacchia leaves behind two children and his wife.

“Today Giorgio Guastamacchia passed away,” wrote prime minister Conte in a Facebook post on Saturday. “In recent days he had been hospitalized in Rome after contracting the Covid-19 [Wuhan] virus.”

“For all of us who have known him, for the colleagues of the protection service, for the employees of the Prime Minister, it is a moment of great pain,” added Conte.

Moreover, three more doctors have died from the coronavirus in Italy, bringing the nation’s overall death toll among healthcare professionals to 80.

You can follow Alana Mastrangelo on Twitter at @ARmastrangelo, and on Instagram.

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