Italy passes Chinese virus infection total while deaths in Spain surge

Deaths from coronavirus have surged in Spain, while Italy has passed Chinese infection numbers, as Covid-19 continued to grip Europe.

Spain's Health Ministry reported another 7,800 infections overnight for a total of 64,059. Deaths in Spain climbed by 769 to 4,858 — the world's second highest total after Italy's 9,134.

Spain's severely strained health service has 9,444 workers infected with Covid-19, a figure Amnesty International said is the highest among countries affected by the outbreak. The number is nearly 15% of Spain's total cases.

The day-on-day increase of infections is slightly lower for the first time since a rapid rise in early March. There was a 8,500 increase reported on Thursday. Spain has the second-highest tally in Europe and fourth in the world.

"It's true that we have more deaths than what we saw yesterday, but it's also true that the percentage increase today is similar to that of he past three days and it appears there is a stabilisation," said Fernando Simon, the head of the health emergency co-ordination centre.

The worldwide death toll climbed to more than 25,000, according to Johns Hopkins University, but more than 127,000 people have recovered, about half in China.

Italy has become the second country to overtake China in coronavirus infections after the US, recording 86,498 on the day it recorded its single biggest leap in deaths, with 969 more victims.

Italian epidemiologists warned that the country's numbers are likely to be much higher than reported — perhaps by five times — although two weeks into a nationwide lockdown the daily increase seems to be slowing, at least in northern Italy.

In France, a 16-year-old student became the youngest person in the country to die from the virus. Her sister said she was admitted to hospital on Monday after developing a "slight cough" last week, and she died on Tuesday in hospital in Paris.

"We must stop believing that this only affects the elderly," said the sister. "No one is invincible against this mutant virus."

France has reported more than 1,600 deaths and 29,000 infections, and on Friday extended its nationwide confinement measures for another two weeks until April 15.