Italy records almost 1,000 virus deaths in one-day record
UK’s Johnson tests positive for virus US tops world in virus cases
Rome: Italy recorded a shocking spike in coronavirus deaths on Friday with 969 new victims, the worst daily record for any country since the pandemic began.
The infection rate however continued its downward trend, with the civil protection agency reporting nearly 86,500 confirmed cases in Italy — a 7.4 per cent increase, down from around 8.0 per cent in previous days.
Prior to Friday's figure, the largest daily toll was registered on March 21, when 793 people died.
The 969 people who died over the last 24 hours compares with 712 deaths on Thursday, 683 on Wednesday, 743 on Tuesday and 602 on Monday.
The total number of confirmed cases rose to 86,498 from a previous 80,539, taking Italy's total past that of China, where the coronavirus epidemic emerged at the end of last year.
The United States already surpassed China's tally of cases on Thursday.
In Italy, of those originally infected nationwide, 10,950 had fully recovered on Friday, compared to 10,361 the day before. There were 3,732 people in intensive care against a previous 3,612.
The hardest-hit northern region of Lombardy reported a steep rise in fatalities compared with the day before and remains in a critical situation, with a total of 5,402 deaths and 37,298 cases.
That compared with 4,861 deaths and 34,889 cases reported up to Thursday.
Friday's cumulative death tally included 50 fatalities that actually occurred on Thursday in the northern Piedmont region, but whose notification arrived too late to be included in the official figures for March 26, the Civil Protection Agency said.
Meanwhile, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson became the first major world leader to test positive for the coronavirus on Friday as Spain saw a record number of deaths from the pandemic that is threatening millions around the world.
In a grim milestone, the United States overtook China as the country with the most coronavirus cases, while seeing an unprecedented amount of newly unemployed amid fears of a global economic meltdown.
And Africa’s economic powerhouse South Africa on Friday became the latest nation on the continent to start life under lockdown as it reported its first COVID-19 deaths.
Johnson, whose country has seen more than 11,600 declared coronavirus cases and 578 deaths, said he had developed mild symptoms over the previous 24 hours and was self-isolating after testing positive.
Spain reported that its death toll had hit 4,858 after 769 people died in 24 hours, a record one-day figure for fatalities and far higher than in Italy, which counted 662 deaths in its last daily update on Thursday night.
Europe has suffered the brunt of the coronavirus crisis in recent weeks, with millions across the continent on lockdown and the streets of Paris, Rome and Madrid eerily empty.
Prime Minister Edouard Philippe warned that France -- reeling from the deaths of more than 1,600 people including a 16-year-old girl -- was facing difficult days ahead.
“We find ourselves in a crisis that will last, in a health situation that will not improve any time soon,” Philippe said.
But focus is turning from Europe to the United States, where the number of known infections reached almost 86,000 on Friday, higher than both China and hard-hit Italy. - APP