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Italy Surpasses China's Coronavirus Death Toll

Updated at 3:23 p.m. ET

Italian authorities say the number of deaths related to coronavirus has risen to at least 3,405 — meaning the country's death toll has passed that of China, where the virus was first detected late last year.

China was reporting 3,249 deaths as of Thursday afternoon ET, according to a dashboard created by the Johns Hopkins Whiting School of Engineering. For months, even as the virus spread around the globe, China had had the highest death toll of any nation.

As NPR's Sylvia Poggioli notes, China's population is about 20 times larger than Italy's. The European country also has at least 41,035 known active cases — far fewer than China, which has reported at least 81,155 cases.

Italian authorities have imposed sweeping restrictions on people and businesses to try to slow the spread of the virus, including a nationwide lockdown.

But as the death toll has climbed, some authorities are calling for even more restrictive measures.

"I hope there will soon be measures to restrict people jogging or going out for walks. I'm sorry about that, but the alternative is intensive care, hospitalization and contagion," Luca Zaia, governor of the Veneto region, told Reuters.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Merrit Kennedy is a reporter for NPR's News Desk. She covers a broad range of issues, from the latest developments out of the Middle East to science research news.