Italy reports record 250 coronavirus deaths in one day

Italian officials said 250 people have died from the coronavirus in the last 24 hours, marking a record number of deaths from the illness within such a timespan. 

The Italian Civil Protection Agency reported the increase Friday, which raised the country's death toll from coronavirus to 1,266 people, according to The Associated Press. The spike in cases has shifted the focus on the outbreak from China to Europe. 

"More cases are now being reported every day [in Europe] than were being reported by China at the height of its epidemic," World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said. He also called the reported 5,000 deaths worldwide a "tragic milestone."

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"Do not let this fire burn," he said calling for social distancing. "Isolate the sick."

The record number of deaths comes just days after Italy reported nearly 200 deaths in a 24-hour period. 

Scientists have not yet found a vaccine for COVID-19, which WHO officially characterized as a pandemic on early Wednesday.

“In the days and weeks ahead, we expect to see the number of Covid-19 cases, the number of deaths, and the number of affected countries climb even higher,” Tedros said Wednesday.

As of Friday afternoon, 1,875 people in the U.S. had tested positive for the coronavirus. Public health officials have estimated that thousands of people likely have the virus but don’t know it, partly due to the lack of testing.

Trump announced on Wednesday travel restrictions from Europe. He also declared a national emergency over the coronavirus on Friday, freeing up additional resources and funding for the federal, state and local governments fighting the disease.