Italy Coronavirus
A general view of the central station during the military and police checks during the coronavirus outbreak on March 09, 2020 in Milan, Italy. Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced overnight a "national emergency" due to the coronavirus outbreak and imposed quarantines on the Lombardy and Veneto regions, which contain roughly a quarter of the country's population. (Photo by Pier Marco Tacca/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

  • Italy recorded 168 new deaths from the coronavirus on Tuesday night, marking the highest leap in fatalities within a single day.
  • The total death toll is now at 631 in Italy alone. The number of infections also soared past 10 000 on Tuesday.
  • Its number of infections and deaths are second only to China, which has been recording a dramatic improvement in the outbreak.
  • The jump in fatalities took place on the first day of a nationwide lockdown on the country's 60 million citizens to prevent further spread and protect the vulnerable.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Italy recorded 168 new deaths of the coronavirus on Tuesday night - its highest death toll in a single day from the coronavirus - further confirming that it is now the hardest-hit country in the world.

As of Wednesday morning, a total of 631 people are now dead, and 10 149 are infected. The leap in numbers means Italian fatalities are just over 14% of the global death toll, which stands at around 4,200.

Its death toll and total number of cases are second only to mainland China, where the coronavirus broke out last December.

China, however, appears to be turning a corner with the disease, having recorded fewer and fewer new cases every day.

Italy's Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte put the entire country on lockdown on Tuesday, mandating a "stay at home" policy, closing large gatherings and cultural centres, banning all but essential travel, and limiting the opening hours of many shops and restaurants.

Despite these measures Italy's medical system is under enormous pressure to handle the cases. Doctors have been working back-to-back shifts and are making agonizing decisions over who to prioritize for treatment - and are reportedly opting to favor the young and healthy over older patients.

Italy detected its first three cases in late January.

Receive a daily update on your cellphone with all our latest news: click here.

Also from Business Insider South Africa: