The death toll from the new coronavirus in Italy has risen to 197 after the largest daily increase in fatalities there since the outbreak began.
Officials said 49 people had died in 24 hours, while more than 4,600 cases have been reported in total.
The country has now reported the most deaths outside of China, where the virus emerged in December.
Officials announced the record daily death toll in a statement on Friday.
They said the number could not be officially confirmed until health officials had “established the actual cause of death”.
The national health institute said the average age of those who have died was 81, with the majority suffering from underlying health problems. An estimated 72% of all those who have died were men.
government data shows that 4.25% of confirmed coronavirus cases have died, the highest rate in the world.
Italy has one of the world’s oldest populations.
The government this week ordered the closure of all schools for 10 days as it battles to contain the outbreak with All professional sport, including Serie A football matches to be played behind closed doors for a month.
The World Health Organization says nearly 100,000 people worldwide have contracted the coronavirus. More than 3,000 people have died – the majority in China.
WHO director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus called the spread of the virus “deeply concerning” and urged all countries to make containment “their highest priority”.