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At least 475 additional people died from the coronavirus in Italy Wednesday, marking a 19 percent spike within the last 24 hours, raising the nationwide death toll to at least 2,978, Sky News reported, citing the Italian Civil Protection Agency.
It's the country's highest single-day spike in its death toll since the coronavirus outbreak began.
There are at least 35,713 total cases in Italy, the country’s health ministry also announced Wednesday. There are 14,363 hospitalized patients with symptoms, with 2,257 in intensive care, while 12,090 are in home isolation.
Italy’s death toll is nearing that of China, where at least 3,122 people have died, according to Johns Hopkins University, since the novel COVID-19 first was reported in the city of Wuhan in the Hubei province late December.
The World Health Organization last week named Europe the new epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic – and Italy is the worst-hit nation outside of China. Since March 9, Italy has been under a nationwide lockdown meant to help curb the spread of the virus by effectively shutting down most aspects of public life.
Italy entered its second week of the lockdown by implementing new measures Tuesday that require Italians to fill out a police-issued self-declaration form before going outside. Residents must state who they are, where they intend to go and for what reason. The form also requires residents to disclose that they have not tested positive for COVID-19 and are not currently taking part in a 14-day quarantine.
The European Union announced Tuesday it was sealing its borders for its 26 member states as well as Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland, banning travel from the bloc for 30 days, the BBC reported. That came the same day France announced a nationwide lockdown, following the lead of Italy and Spain, as part of an effort to curb the spread of infection.