The Italian government said Thursday the number of deaths in the country from the new coronavirus has risen to 3,405, surpassing for the first time that of mainland China where COVID-19 was initially reported.

The number of victims from the deadly virus rose by 427 from the previous day. Italy has been the country hit hardest by the coronavirus in Europe.

The number of people who have tested positive for the coronavirus reached 41,035, a dramatic increase of 5,322 since Wednesday in the country's sharpest acceleration of cases so far, the government said.


With the updated figures, the fatality rate for Italy's infected stands at around 8.3 percent.

Many other European countries are also struggling with a sharp rise in coronavirus cases and deaths, but the surge in Italy stands out.

Some experts say that such high figures may be attributable to the country's demographic characteristics with a sizable elderly population and insufficient medical facilities to handle the rapidly increasing number of patients.

Tedros Ghebreyesus, the head of the World Health Organization, said earlier this month that Europe has become the epicenter of the new coronavirus after the illness raged in China and elsewhere around the world.

Since Italy implemented a national lockdown earlier this month, some 52,000 people have been reported for going out without authorization.