Italy reports 649 new deaths linked to coronavirus on Saturday

FILE PHOTO: Medical workers visit the home of a patient suspected to be suffering from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) to carry out a swab test, as a part of an initiative by the Spallazani hospital to help elderly people who struggle to leave their homes, in Rome, Italy, December 3, 2020. REUTERS/Remo Casilli/File Photo

MILAN (Reuters) -Italy reported 649 new coronavirus-related deaths on Saturday compared with 761 the day before, the health ministry said. The daily tally of new infections was 19,903, up from 18,727.

There were 196,439 swab tests carried out in the past day, up from a previous 190,416, the ministry said.

The first Western country hit by the virus, Italy has recorded 64,036 fatalities since its outbreak emerged in February, the second highest toll in Europe after Britain.

Patients in hospital with COVID-19 stood at 28,066 on Saturday, down 496 on the day before.

There were 195 new admissions to intensive care units, compared with 208 on Friday.

The number of intensive care patients decreased by 66 to 3,199, reflecting those who died or were discharged after recovery.

At the height of Italy’s second wave of the epidemic in the first half of November, hospital admissions were rising by around 1,000 per day, while intensive care occupancy rose by about 100 per day.

Reporting by Stephen Jewkes; Editing by Mike Harrison