Italy reports 683 COVID-19 deaths on Thursday, 18,236 new cases

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The spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Rome

ROME (Reuters) - Italy reported 683 coronavirus-related deaths on Thursday against 680 the day before, the health ministry said, while the daily tally of new infections rose to 18,236 from 17,572.

There were 185,320 swabs carried out in the past day, down from a previous 199,489 the ministry said.

The first Western country hit by the virus, Italy has seen 67,220 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 1.906 million cases to date.

Patients in hospital with COVID-19 stood at 26,427 on Thursday, down by 470 from the day before.

There were 183 new admissions to intensive care units, compared with 191 on Wednesday.

The number of intensive care patients decreased by 71 to 2,855, 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 Gavin Jones, editing by Crispian Balmer)