ROME (Reuters) – Deaths from the COVID-19 epidemic in Italy climbed by 333 on Monday against 260 the day before, the Civil Protection Agency said, but the daily tally of new cases declined to 1,739 from 2,324 on Sunday, posting the lowest reading since March 10.

The total death toll in Italy since its outbreak came to light on Feb. 21 now stands at 26,977, the agency said, the second highest in the world after that of the United States.

The number of confirmed cases amounts to 199,414, the third highest global tally behind those of the United States and Spain.

People registered as currently carrying the illness fell to 105,813 from 106,103 on Sunday.

There were 1,956 people in intensive care on Monday against 2,009 on Sunday, maintaining a long-running decline.

Of those originally infected, 66,624 were declared recovered, up from 64,928 a day earlier.

The agency said a total of 1.237 million people have now been tested for the virus, up from 1.211 million the day before, out of a population of around 60 million.

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced on Sunday that from May 4 Italy would gradually lift its lockdown imposed some seven weeks ago to try to contain the epidemic.

(Reporting by Gavin Jones, editing by Crispian Balmer)