ROME, Aug. 31 (Xinhua) -- The number of new coronavirus cases dropped back under the 1,000 mark as Italy reported a total of 996 new COVID-19 infections over the past 24 hours, the Ministry of Health reported on Monday.
New cases jumped over the 1,000 mark on Aug. 26 (1,367 new infections) and have continued above 1,000 until Aug. 30 (1,365).
As well, six patients died of COVID-19 on Monday, against another four who lost their lives on Sunday, while there were 117 recoveries on Monday, against an increase of 312 recoveries on Sunday, the Ministry of Health said.
The latest data pushes the total number of infections, recoveries and fatalities in Italy since the pandemic first began here in late February to 269,214 -- against a total of 268,218 on Sunday.
In its weekly COVID-19 monitoring report for Aug. 17-23, the Ministry of Health noted that "an increase is confirmed in new cases reported in Italy for the fourth consecutive week ... The majority of cases continue to be contracted on the national territory" while 20.8 percent of the new cases were imported from abroad.
Also on Monday, a technical institute in the city of Verbania in the northern Piedmont region said that it has shut down pending disinfection of its premises after a teacher tested positive for the new coronavirus.
Six students have been quarantined. The institute had been holding remedial classes since Aug. 26, according to ANSA Italian news agency.
The news of the coronavirus case at the Verbania institute came as Italy prepares for the reopening of its schools on Sept. 14.
Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte wrote on Twitter on Monday that "once again, Italy is on the frontlines to elaborate useful strategies to combat the coronavirus. Thanks to (Health) Minister Roberto Speranza, today 53 countries in dialogue with (the World Health Organization) WHO on safe reopening of schools. This is our priority today."
Speranza also tweeted that the "right to health and right to education must walk hand in hand. Today, representing Italy, I promoted with the WHO a conference on the safe reopening of schools. This is the true priority in the coming weeks in all countries around the world."
CONSUMER SPENDING DOWN 10.9 PCT
On the economic front, the General Italian Confederation of Businesses (Confcommercio) reported on Monday that Italians will spend 1,900 euros (about 2,300 U.S. dollars) less per capita this year compared to last year due to the COVID pandemic.
This equals 116 billion euros in consumption lost, or a drop of 10.9 percent in national consumer spending this year, the confederation reported, based on its analysis of consumer spending in Italy for 2020.
Italy's wealthier, industrialized North, where the virus first struck earlier this year, was the most penalized by the collapse in consumer spending, almost 60 percent of the drop concentrated in the eight regions that make up the northern part of the country.
The northern Lombardy region whose capital is Milan, where the first coronavirus case set off the pandemic in Italy, is set to lose over 22.6 billion euros in consumer spending, the largest amount in absolute terms, the Confcommercio report said.
"The overall picture appears disheartening and ... it will take at least five years to return to 2019 per capita spending levels," the report said.