US coronavirus death toll overtakes Italy's as highest in the world

The United States coronavirus death toll has eclipsed Italy’s as the highest in the world.

The US death toll passed 19,700, while Italy reported the number of dead there had climbed to nearly 19,500.

Over the past week, the number of new deaths each day has been about three times higher on average in the US than in Italy.

Deaths have risen more than 9,000 for the week in the US compared with fewer than 3,000 in Italy. Around half the death in the US were in the New York area.

Meanwhile, European countries used roadblocks, drones, helicopters, mounted patrols and the threat of fines to keep people from travelling over the Easter weekend, as glorious weather posed an extra test of public discipline.

“Don’t do silly things,” said Domenico Arcuri, Italy’s special commissioner for the virus emergency. “Don’t go out, continue to behave responsibly as you have done until today, use your head and your sense of responsibility.”

A graph showing the confirmed number of coronavirus cases and deaths. Credit: PA Graphics

Italy has set up roadblocks to stop people from going on trips, and France deployed 160,000 police, including officers on horseback who patrolled beaches and parks.

Spanish authorities said they will distribute 10 million face masks at major train and subway stations in a bid to prevent a jump in infections.

Shoppers queue in Madrid Credit: Manu Fernandez/AP

Italy continued to include all non-essential manufacturing in an extension of its national lockdown until May 3, but premier Giuseppe Conte held out hope that some industry could reopen earlier if conditions permit.

Globally, confirmed infections rose above 1.7 million, with more than 100,000 deaths, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University. Close to 400,000 people have recovered.

Coronavirus: Everything you need to know