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Italy's latest death toll from the coronavirus climbed past 7,500 Thursday, according to the country’s Civil Protection Agency, but the number of new cases in the country slowed for the fourth consecutive day.

Meanwhile, the death toll in Spain surged past China where, according to the World Health Organization, the novel COVID-19 illness originated in November.

The coronavirus death toll in Spain reached 4,089 Thursday after 655 people died within 24 hours, the country’s civil health ministry said. Spain now ranks second, only behind Italy, in the tally of worldwide deaths from the disease.


Medical staffers wearing protective gear, part of a special unit performing house calls, work in Bergamo, northern Italy, one of the areas worse-affected by coronavirus, Wednesday, March 25, 2020.  (LaPresse via AP)

The number of cases in Spain spiked by 8,578 in the last 24 hours, according to the health ministry. A total of at least 56,188 people in Spain have been infected.

The rate of contagion in Italy, meanwhile, slowed for the fourth day in a row Wednesday. The country’s Civil Protection Agency said there were 57,521 active cases of COVID-19 in Italy, which was 3,491 more than Tuesday. The number of infections rose by 3,612 Tuesday, while on Monday it had spiked by 3,780 cases and on Sunday by 3,957 cases since the day prior.

In total, Italy recorded 74,386 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, a figure that includes both active cases and those who’ve died, according to Johns Hopkins University. That’s second only to China, where 81,782 cases have been recorded. At least 3,169 people in China have died from COVID-19.


The head of Italy’s Civil Protection Agency and Coronavirus Emergency Commissioner Angelo Borrelli was absent from his normal daily press briefing Wednesday in which he normally gives updates on the outbreak, CNBC reported. He was hospitalized with a high fever and tested for COVID-19. His results are pending.

The death toll in Italy reached 7,503 on Wednesday, which was when the country’s figures were last updated, reporting 683 more cases than Tuesday. Italy saw a record spike in deaths Saturday morning after at least 793 people died in one day.

Italy first, and then Spain, have implemented nationwide lockdowns since earlier this month, and have gradually rolled out measures drastically changing public life, including closing schools, canceling sporting events, restricting travel and shutting down all non-essential business.

People walk past a poster that reads ‘I want you to stay home’, by artist TvBoy amid a lockdown in Barcelona, Spain, Tuesday, March 24, 2020. More than 1.5 billion around the world have been told to stay in their homes. For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms. For some it can cause a more serious illness. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)

Real Madrid soccer club, meanwhile launched a project with the Higher Sports Council to convert the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in the Spanish capital into an adapted space to store donations of health supplies destined to fight this pandemic. All donations will be delivered to authorities with the Spanish Health Ministry, who will then allocate supplies to the most need centers and entities, Real Madrid said in a press release Thursday.

European leaders were expected to hold a virtual summit Thursday to discuss the region’s fiscal response to the coronavirus crisis. On Wednesday, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said the European Union must respond “mighty, united and swift” to the outbreak.


“The emergency we are living through does not know borders. At a European level there is the need to unite the health practices and boost the exchange of information, above all now, in the most acute phase of the epidemic,” Conte said in a speech, according to ANSA news agency. “The response, also on the economic and financial level, must be massive, cohesive, and prompt.”