A medical worker wearing a face mask talks on her mobile phone inside the new coronavirus intensive care unit of the Brescia Poliambulanza hospital, Lombardy, on March 17, 2020.
The number of people who have died from the coronavirus in Italy has hit 3,405, according to Reuters, meaning the country has now reported more deaths than China as a result of the pandemic.
The death toll in China, where the coronavirus started in Wuhan, in Hubei province late 2019, currently stands at 3,249, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
Health officials in Italy said Thursday that the death toll had risen by 427 in the last 24 hours, with 475 deaths recorded the day before.
After sweeping through China in early 2020, the virus spread to Europe where Italy — and particularly the northern Lombardy region, which is home to financial hub Milan — became the epicenter.
The country, like many others in Europe, remains under lockdown as authorities attempt to stem the human cost of the virus. And closures will have to be extended beyond the current end-date of April 3, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte confirmed earlier in the day.
Speaking to Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, Conte said measures taken to close schools and universities and to restrict movement throughout Italy would have to be prolonged.
“The total blockade will go on,” Conte said. “The measures taken, both the closure of (public) activities and the ones concerning schools, can only be extended,” he told the paper.
Under the lockdown rules, people can only leave their homes to get food or medicines (grocery stores and pharmacies are the only stores that remain open), or to perform other essential services or to go to work. Most shops had been forced to close until March 25 but that deadline also looks set to be extended.
Meanwhile on Thursday, China said that there were no new domestic transmissions of the coronavirus in the country for the first time since its outbreak, although 21 “imported” infections were confirmed in Beijing as people returned from trips abroad.
There are over 230,000 confirmed cases of the virus worldwide and at least 9,325 lives have been taken by the disease, according to the latest data from Johns Hopkins University.
—CNBC’s Holly Ellyatt contributed to this article.