By Angelo Amante
ROME (Reuters) - Italy on Tuesday reported 353 COVID-related deaths, the highest daily figure since May 6 and up from 233 on Monday, the health ministry said, as Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte prepares new curbs to tame the surge in infections and deaths.
Some 28,244 new coronavirus infections were recorded over the past 24 hours, up from 22,253 on Monday. A total of 39,412 people have now died in Italy because of the disease, while 759,829 cases have been registered to date.
Tougher measures will include a nationwide nightly curfew from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. and the closure of museums and exhibitions, a draft decree seen by Reuters shows.
The decree, expected to be approved by Wednesday and to be effective until Dec. 3, would also limit travel between the worst-hit regions, in which bars, pubs, restaurants and most shops will be ordered to close.
Gyms, cinemas and theatres are already shut all over Italy, bars and restaurants must close at 6 p.m., people must not host more than six guests in their homes and masks are obligatory outdoors and in public buildings.
The northern region of Lombardy, centred on the financial capital Milan, remains the hardest hit area, reporting 6,804 new cases on Tuesday and 117 of the day's fatalities. It is an almost certain target of the toughest curbs in the pipeline.
The government has not yet detailed which regions will be subject to the most stringent restrictions, to be based on 21 parameters including the number of people with symptoms, infection rates and availability of hospital beds.
Conte, however, is holding back from re-introducing a nationwide lockdown in an attempt to safeguard an economy which is already expected to shrink by at least 9% this year.
Last month the government approved a 5.4 billion euros ($6.33 billion) package to help businesses and is expected to approve a new one this week worth at least 1.5 billion euros.
(Reporting by Angelo Amante; Editing by Gavin Jones)