Italian authorities reported on Thursday that the total number of deaths passed 3,400 in the last 24 hours, meaning the country has now seen more fatalities than China.
Italy has recorded a total of 3,405 deaths, compared to China’s 3,245.
The number of fatalities announced on Thursday was lower than the record high of 475 fatalities on Wednesday — the highest official one-day figure in the world.
The number of confirmed cases in Italy also jumped to 41,035 on Thursday, up from 35,713 in 24 hours.
This figure includes the deceased as well as 4,440 patients who are now said to have recovered from the illness caused by the virus.
China reported no new infections for the first time on Thursday.
Italian hospitals now have almost 2,500 patients in intensive care.
Infections have started to rise in the south of the country, though the north remains far worse affected. The region of Lombardy is by far the worst-hit part of the country – and Europe.
Lombardy alone has seen almost two-thirds of all the deaths related to the outbreak – 2,168 on Thursday – with almost 20,000 cases confirmed in the region.
Emilia-Romagna now has more than 5,000 confirmed cases, followed by Veneto with nearly 3,500.
The only region which has not reported any fatalities is the rural southern region of Basilicata.
Regional authorities in Lombardy have warned its hospitals are running out of intensive care beds.
Data from health authorities on Thursday showed the region’s intensive care was at 94 percent of capacity.
Italy’s ANSA news agency said the deaths of two more doctors in the nearby town of Como west of Bergamo on Thursday brought the total number of medics killed by the new disease to 13.
It will take days or weeks before Italy sees the numbers of infected and deceased stop rising after it implemented quarantine measures, experts said on Wednesday.
A poll published in La Repubblica newspaper on Thursday found 96 percent of all Italians viewed the closure of most business and all schools and public institutions “positively” or “very positively” and just four percent said they were opposed.
While the measures are not as extreme as those taken in China’s quarantine of Wuhan’s Hubei province, they still seemed unimaginable for a Western democracy until this month.
Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said on Thursday that the government would be extending the quarantine period beyond the initial deadline of April 3rd.
Conte also warned that the government may also tighten quarantine rules yet further.
“Use your common sense and act with utmost caution,” Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte told Italians on Thursday. “We are not underestimating anything and always acting based on the worst-case scenario.”
Government ministers and regional governors have called for a ban on outdoor exercise and said parks and walkways across the country should be closed after 43,000 people across Italy were fined by police within one week for being outside “without a good reason”. The Local.