Italy coronavirus deaths surge by 627 in a day, lifting total death toll to 4,032

People wearing protective face masks walk as the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, in Milan
People wearing protective face masks walk as the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, in Milan, Italy March 20, 2020. REUTERS/Daniele Mascolo

The death toll from an outbreak of coronavirus in Italy has leapt by 627 to 4,032, officials said on Friday, an increase of 18.4% – by far the largest daily rise in absolute terms since the contagion emerged a month ago.

On Thursday, Italy overtook China as the country to register most deaths from the highly contagious virus.

Until Friday, Italy had never recorded more than 475 deaths in a single day, while China, where the contagion has slowed sharply, has never reported more than 150.

The total number of cases in Italy rose to 47,021 from a previous 41,035, an increase of 14.6%, the Civil Protection Agency said.

The hardest-hit northern region of Lombardy remains in a critical situation, with 2,549 deaths and 22,264 cases.

Of those originally infected nationwide, 5,129 had fully recovered on Friday compared to 4,440 the day before. There were 2,655 people in intensive care against a previous 2,498.