Coronavirus death toll in Italy hits 3,405 and surpasses that of China

The big news in Europe on Thursday evening is that Italy has overtaken China as the country to have suffered the most deaths from coronavirus.

Not unexpected, given the trajectory of the last few days, but dramatic confirmation that the epicentre of this outbreak is now the European continent.


The latest figures show that more than 400 people died in the last 24 hours, bringing the total dead now to 3,405.

That is another 427 dead, slightly fewer than Wednesday but still a terrible toll.

Some 3,130 people have died in China since the crisis began.

Drive-thru swabs for coronavirus are performed directly in cars in Italy. Credit: AP

Most worrying to Italian policy makers will be that the number of new cases has again risen sharply - 5,322 since Wednesday.

That is the figure that they would hope, after 10 days of total lockdown, would be beginning to fall.

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte warned on Thursday the restrictions could last a lot longer than the current April 3 end date, and may have to become even stricter.

Medics and paramedics from China salute as the board a Red Cross vehicle in Milan. Credit: AP

EU Chief negotiator Michel Barnier announced on Twitter he has tested positive for Covid-19, quickly followed by Prince Albert of Monaco who become the first head of state or government to fall victim.

Commission President Ursula von der Leyen is to be tested after having been in contact with Mr Barnier.


Spain has seen another big rise, despite the lockdown there.

There have been 3,431 more cases in the country in the last 24 hours, with deaths now up to 803.

Madrid and Catalonia are the worst affected regions.


Cyprus is banning all passenger flights.

Only cargo traffic will move by air after 1am on Saturday.

It has also closed the border between the north and south of the island.


Romania is telling its vast ex-pat population not to come home for Easter, for fear they will bring the virus back with them.

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