Coronavirus: Italy sees record 31,000 new cases in 24 hours

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Italy registered 31,084 new coronavirus infections over the past 24 hours, the health ministry said on Friday, its highest daily tally since the start of the health crisis and up from the previous record of 26,831 posted on Thursday.

The ministry also reported 199 COVID-related deaths, compared with 217 the day before.

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A total of 38,321 people have now died in Italy because of coronavirus, the second highest death toll in Europe after Britain’s, while 647,674 cases of the disease have been registered to date.

The northern region of Lombardy, centered on Italy’s financial capital Milan, remained the hardest hit area, reporting 8,960 new cases on Friday against 7,339 on Thursday.

The southern Campania region was the second-worst affected, chalking up 3,186 cases.

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte imposed restrictions on business activity last week, ordering bars and restaurants to close at 6 pm and shutting gyms, cinemas and theatres, among other measures.

Conte has repeatedly said he wants to avoid a new national lockdown that would wreck the already fragile economy, but the law gives the leaders of Italy’s 20 regions leeway to establish their own curbs.

On Friday, the small Valle d’Aosta region, at the border with France, imposed a nighttime curfew from 9 pm to 5 am to curb a dramatic surge in infections which is putting its health system under acute strain.

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