• The rate of increase in new cases in Spain, Italy, the UK, and the US has seen recent declines, evident in new data from Sunday, March 29.
  • It could be an early sign of nations starting to get a handle on their outbreaks.
  • In an optimistic analysis, the total number of cases will continue to rise, but more slowly. But there is still a long way to go.
  • Deaths which tend to lag new cases will likely continue to increase even if a corner has been turned.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories .

After weeks of lockdowns and travel bans, it appears that the rate of increase in new cases of coronavirus are beginning to slow in some of the hardest-hit nations around the world.

Here are charts from the data-tracking site Worldometer showing the progress of outbreaks in western European nations, which have been wrestling with outbreaks for several weeks:

Italy coronavirus daily new cases
Italy coronavirus daily new cases
Worldometers
Spain coronavirus daily new cases
Spain coronavirus daily new cases
Worldometers
uk daily new coronavirus cases
uk daily new coronavirus cases
Worldometers

All three have seen a similar trajectory a peak and then a recent decline.

It is difficult to judge from this data alone, because the time period for the declines in new cases are too small. But some experts in those countries also sound optimistic.

In Italy, at a government press briefing on Sunday, Professor Luca Richeldi said that only 50 people that day needed to be taken to the ICU, compared to around 120 on the previous two days.

He said he took it as a sign that Italy's harsh lockdown is working.

In the UK, the influential epidemiologist Neil Ferguson, of Imperial College, told the BBC's "Today" program on Monday that "we can see some early signs of slowing in some indicators."

He said to "look at the numbers of new hospital admissions today, for instance, that does seem to be slowing down a little bit now. It's not yet plateaued as the numbers are increasing each day but the rate of that increase has slowed," Ferguson said.

He warned that deaths will likely continue to increase, since people with even fatal infections tend to spend several days in the hospital before dying.

There are still many reasons to be cautious

The UK is also behind the other outbreaks in Europe, having only put its people under lockdown a little more than a week ago. So the impact of isolation likely hasn't impacted new case counts yet.

The case data is also choppy Italy last week appeared to be registering a decline, only to go on surge back towards a record before dropping again.

In New York City, which last week became the epicenter of the US outbreak, the city also recorded its smallest daily case increase in a week.

Farzad Mostashari, founder of health care startup Aledade, and former national coordinator for health information technology at the Department Health and Human Services, tweeted Saturday that there "*may*" be "early signals" that "infections in NYC slowed."

In the wider US, however, the picture continues to look bleak.

Even President Donald Trump, who has consistently downplayed the threat posed by the virus, on Sunday abandoned his hope of reviving the US economy by Easter.

Instead, he said, the country should regard it as a "very good job" if its death toll can be kept as low as 100,000.

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