Italy has now surpassed the total number of deaths recorded in China. Officials announced 427 more people with COVID-19 have died in Italy, taking the toal number of deaths to 3,405. The number of confirmed coronavirus deaths in China currently stands at 3,249 but the reliability of the data has been questioned by some experts.
Officials announced the total number of cases rose to 41,035 on Thursday – up 14.9 percent, from 35,713 the day before.
Positive test results are coming at a faster rate of growth than seen over the last three days, the Civil Protection Agency said.
Italy’s death toll has been blamed on the country’s overwhelmed healthcare system, high numbers of elderly people within the population and delayed lockdown of the outbreak’s epicentre in Lombardy.
The World Health Organization’s emergencies director Mike Ryan said the high death toll, which is now at 8.2 percent, was probably due to the “astonishing” number of cases within the health systems, as well as the high number of elderly people in the population at large.
Italy has the world’s second-oldest population and the vast majority of those who have died, 87 percent, were over 70.
Italy went into lockdown on March 9, as officials try to halt the spread of the virus.
Bars, restaurants and most shops have closed, as have schools and universities.
But despite people staying in doors, the number of deaths continue to spiral.
Other countries have began to follow suit and impose lockdowns of their own, including Spain, France and Ireland.
So far the virus has infected more than 218,000 people worldwide and killed over 8,800.
It comes as China recorded no new cases of coronavirus on Wednesday for the first time since the outbreak began at the end of last year.
The number of cases in the country – more than 81,000 – is still far higher than in Italy, which has 41,035.
On Thursday evening Public Health England announced the number of people who have died after testing positive for coronavirus in the UK has risen to 144.
The UK has also seen a sharp increase in the number of new cases of COVID-19, as 643 people tested positive, bringing the national total to 3,269.