Italy recorded a shocking spike in coronavirus deaths 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% increase, down from around 8% in previous days.
According to Reuters, the agency put the number of fatalities at 919, still easily the highest daily tally since the epidemic emerged on February 21.
Prior to Friday's figure, the largest daily toll was registered on March 21, when 793 people died.
The more than 900 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.