Italy reports 674 COVID-19 deaths on Friday, 17,992 new cases

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Outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Rome

ROME (Reuters) - Italy reported 674 coronavirus-related deaths on Friday against 683 the day before, the health ministry said, while the daily tally of new infections decreased to 17,992 from 18,236.

There were 179,800 swabs carried out in the past day, down from a previous 185,320 the ministry said.

The first Western country hit by the virus, Italy has seen 67,894 COVID-19 fatalities since its outbreak emerged in February, the highest toll in Europe and the fifth highest in the world.

It has also registered 1.92 million cases to date.

Patients in hospital with COVID-19 stood at 25,769 on Friday, down by 658 from the day before.

There were 189 new admissions to intensive care units, compared with 183 on Thursday.

The number of intensive care patients decreased by 36 to 2,819, reflecting those who died or were discharged after recovery.

When Italy's second wave of the epidemic was accelerating fast in the first half of November, hospital admissions were rising by around 1,000 per day, while intensive care occupancy was increasing by about 100 per day.

(Reporting by Angelo Amante; Editing by Crispian Balmer)