Italy reports 20,648 new coronavirus cases, 541 deaths on Sunday

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FILE PHOTO: A health worker takes a swab sample from a man to test for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), at the Fiumicino Airport in Rome

MILAN (Reuters) - Italy reported 541 coronavirus-related deaths on Sunday, against 686 the day before, and 20,648 new infections, down from 26,323 on Saturday, the health ministry said.

The first Western country hit by the virus, Italy has seen 54,904 COVID-19 fatalities since its outbreak emerged in February, the second highest toll in Europe after Britain. It has also registered 1.585 million cases to date. (Graphic: https://tmsnrt.rs/34pvUyi)

Daily figures on Sunday confirmed a decline seen in recent days in the number of new cases.

However, there were 176,934 swabs carried out in the past day, down from a previous 225,940.

While Italy's daily death tolls have been amongst the highest in Europe over recent days, the rise in hospital admissions and intensive care occupancy is slowing, suggesting the latest wave of infections was receding.

Italy is expected to adopt next week a new set of measures to contain the virus during Christmas holidays.

The upcoming decree would limit people movement across regions and would maintain a nightly curfew, Regional Affairs minister Francesco Boccia told Italian daily Avvenire on Sunday.

(Reporting by Gianluca Semeraro; editing by Lisa Shumaker)