Italy tops 5,000 daily coronavirus cases for first time since March

FILE PHOTO: People wearing protective face masks walk past the Colosseum as local authorities in the Italian capital Rome ordered face coverings to be worn at all times outdoors, in an effort to counter the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Rome, Italy, October 8, 2020. REUTERS/Guglielmo Mangiapane

ROME (Reuters) - Italy has registered 5,372 new coronavirus infections over the past 24 hours, the health ministry said on Friday, the first time the country has exceeded 5,000 cases in a single day since March.

There were also 28 COVID-related deaths on Friday against 22 the day before -- far fewer than at the height of the pandemic in Italy in March and April.

Italy was the first country in Europe to be slammed by COVID-19 and has the second-highest death toll in the continent, with 36,111 fatalities since the outbreak flared in February, according to official figures.

Thanks to one of the strictest lockdowns in the world, the government managed to get the contagion under control by the summer, but new infections have been picking up for the last three months and are now rising strongly, doubling in the last week.

Thursday was the first time the country had posted more than 4,000 daily cases since April 12.

Nonetheless, Italy is still recording significantly fewer daily cases than several other large European countries, such as France, Spain and Britain.

The last time Italy saw more than 5,000 cases in a day was on was on March 29, with 5,217 infections reported in the middle of a nationwide lockdown. On that same day, some 756 people died.

Reporting by Gavin Jones