Italy on Friday reported a record 627 new deaths from the novel coronavirus and saw its world-leading toll surpass 4,000 despite government efforts to stem the pandemic’s spread.
The Mediterranean country’s daily death rate is now higher than that officially reported by China at the peak of its outbreak around Wuhan’s Hubei province.
Italy’s previous one-day record death toll was 475 on Wednesday.
Italy has seen more than 1,500 fatalities from COVID-19 in the past three days alone.
It has now recorded the five highest one-day tolls officially registered around the world.
Italy’s total number of deaths now stands and 4,032. Infections rose by nearly 6,000 to 47,021.
The nation of 60 million currently accounts for 36.6 percent of the world’s coronavirus deaths.
“There are so many people walking around who have the virus and who are at risk of infecting others,” Matteo Bassetti, the director of the infectious diseases department at Genoa’s San Martino clinic, told Italy’s AGI news agency.
“The 40,000 cases we are talking about could actually be 100 times higher.”
The Italian government intends to extend a ban on public gatherings and the shutdown of almost all businesses past their March 25 deadline.
Regional leaders and city mayors are urging the Italian government to adopt even tougher restrictions such as a ban on outdoor exercises and the closure of all stores on Sundays.