Italy overtook the UK as the European country with the highest number of COVID-19 deaths, adding to pressure on Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte's government as it seeks to prevent a flare-up of the contagion during the holiday season.
The country reported 484 virus-linked deaths on Sunday, raising the number of fatalities since the outbreak to 64,520. The UK registered 144 daily deaths, boosting the total to 64,170. Only the US, Brazil, India and Mexico have recorded more deaths than Italy.
Italy has seen a slight decline in new cases, though the number of daily fatalities remains high, Giovanni Rezza, head of virus prevention at Italy's Health Ministry, said on Dec. 8. "We know this is the last indicator to go down, after the contagion curve starts decreasing," he added.
Italy is among the countries to be hit hardest by the pandemic, with more than 1.84 million cases since the initial outbreak.
While the first case of the virus was confirmed in February, coronavirus was likely circulating in the country as early as November 2019, according to a published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
(With input from agencies)