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Italy Observes Moment Of Silence For COVID-19 Victims, As Case Numbers Plateau

During a minute of silence commemorating COVID-19 victims, flags fly at half-staff Tuesday at Rome's monument to the unknown soldier.
During a minute of silence commemorating COVID-19 victims, flags fly at half-staff Tuesday at Rome's monument to the unknown soldier.

Cities across Italy, the country hardest hit in coronavirus deaths, marked a minute of silence on Tuesday at noon to honor the many victims since the outbreak emerged about six weeks ago.

The death toll as of Tuesday had reached 12,428, and the total number of cases stands at almost 106,000. Italy's victims account for more than a third of the pandemic's global fatalities.

At government buildings across the country, flags were lowered to half-staff, and Italians marked a minute of silence to honor the victims, most of whom were residents of the northern Lombardy province, Italy's financial and business heartland. The Lombardy city of Bergamo is Italy's hardest-hit urban area.

The moment-of-silence initiative was promoted by a group of mayors to show solidarity with residents in the crisis' epicenter.

As the country moves into its fourth week of lockdown, the head of Italy's national institute of health, Silvio Brusaferro, announced that the country "has reached a plateau" in its infection rate. The past 24 hours saw 4,053 new infections, just three more than the previous day.

Brusaferro said there should soon be a decline in new cases "if we continue to place maximum attention on what we do every day." He added that it would be folly to relax current restrictions on business and movement.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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Sylvia Poggioli is senior European correspondent for NPR's International Desk covering political, economic, and cultural news in Italy, the Vatican, Western Europe, and the Balkans. Poggioli's on-air reporting and analysis have encompassed the fall of communism in Eastern Europe, the turbulent civil war in the former Yugoslavia, and how immigration has transformed European societies.