Italy reports 680 COVID-19 deaths on Wednesday, 17,572 new cases

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

ROME (Reuters) - Italy reported 680 coronavirus-related deaths on Wednesday against 846 the day before, the health ministry said, while the daily tally of new infections rose to 17,572 from 14,844.

There were 199,489 swabs carried out in the past day, up from a previous 162,880 the ministry said.

The first Western country hit by the virus, Italy has seen 66,537 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 1.888 million cases to date.

Patients in hospital with COVID-19 stood at 26,897 on Wednesday, down by 445 from the day before.

There were 191 new admissions to intensive care units, compared with 199 on Tuesday.

The number of intensive care patients decreased by 77 to 2,926, 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 Crispian Balmer; Editing by Gavin Jones)