Italy has registered 15,199 new coronavirus infections over the past 24 hours, the health ministry said, the highest daily tally since the start of the country's outbreak and up from a previous record of 11,705 posted on Sunday.

Yesterday saw 10,874 new cases of Covid-19.

The ministry also reported 127 virus-related deaths today, up from 89 the day before, but still far fewer than at the height of the pandemic in Italy in March and April, when a daily peak of more than 900 fatalities was reached.

After declining over the summer, infections have steadily accelerated in the last few months.

They are now far more widely distributed around the country than during Italy's first wave, but the hardest hit region is once again Lombardy, around the city of Milan.

Lombardy accounted for 4,125 of today's new cases, with Milan and its hinterland close to 2,000 infections over the last 24 hours.

The number of people in intensive care with the virus has risen steadily.

It stands at 926 today, up from 870 yesterday and compared with around 40 in the second half of July.

There are now around the same number of intensive care patients as when the country went into national lockdown on 9 March, though at that time they were far more heavily concentrated in northern regions.

The number of swabs carried out over the past 24 hours rose to a new record of 177,848 from 144,737 registered yesterday.

Italy was the first country in Europe to be hit by Covid-19 and has the second-highest death toll in the continent after the UK, with 36,832 fatalities since February, according to official figures.

The Spanish Steps in Rome were deserted in April

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has said he is determined to avoid another national lockdown of the kind imposed between March and May, and is instead urging local authorities to decide what is best for their own regions.

Lombardy decided on Monday to introduce a curfew from 11pm to 5am to shut down late night gatherings where the virus might easily spread.

Today, after the latest infection numbers, it announced the closure of secondary schools from Monday.

Lazio, around the capital Rome, has imposed its own curfew, to run from midnight to 5am, effective from Friday.

Campania, which is centred on Naples, has said it will follow suit in coming days, while the northern Piedmont region, centred on Turin, announced it would shutter shopping centres at the weekend.

Campania, like other southern regions, emerged largely unscathed from the initial wave of the epidemic, but has seen a recent jump in infections.

It has already ordered the closure of all its junior and secondary schools until the end of this month.

Polish PM recommends nationwide 'red zone' lockdown

Poland's prime minister has said he wants "red zone" lockdown measures to be extended to the entire country amid a record spike in infections.

"I will recommend that from Saturday all of Poland will become a 'red zone," Mateusz Morawiecki told the Polsat TV station ahead of a crisis team meeting that will decide on the measure.

The country's total number of confirmed infections has doubled in less than three weeks and now exceeds 200,000, the health ministry said.

It also announced a new daily record of 10,040 new cases.

As of today, Covid-19 patients occupied 9,439 hospital beds and were using 757 ventilators, compared with 8,962 and 725 respectively a day earlier, the ministry also said.

It passed 100,000 infections on 4 October.

The government's Covid-19 advisor, Andrzej Horban, has said 10,000 cases a day is the upper limit of the health system's capacity.

An ambulance seen in the Polish city of Krakow

Meanwhile, the Netherlands hit a new record for daily coronavirus cases, with more than 8,500 infections in the 24 hours, data released by the National Institute for Public Health (RIVM) shows.

The daily number of confirmed cases continues to rise in one of Europe's second-wave hotspots, nearly a week after the government imposed "partial lockdown" measures including the closure of bars and restaurants.

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Quarantined fishermen drive New Zealand virus spike

A coronavirus outbreak among hundreds of Russian and Ukrainian fishermen flown to New Zealand to bolster its struggling deep-sea fishing industry has prompted that country's largest daily increase in infections in months, authorities said.

More than 230 fishermen were flown in from Moscow last week, with 18 of the crew members testing positive for Covid-19 while in quarantine, New Zealand's director-general of health Ashley Bloomfield said.

The Pacific nation has almost eliminated local transmission of the virus, but regularly records small numbers of new cases in returned travellers.

The fishing cluster pushed the daily tally of new infections to 25 - the highest level since April - sparking concern among officials in Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's recently re-elected government.

New Zealand has recorded more than 1,500 cases and 25 deaths in a population of almost five million and has been widely praised for its handling of the pandemic.

Brazil embraces Chinese Covid-19 vaccine after row

Brazil's health minister said the country would add the Chinese-made CoronaVac vaccine against Covid-19 to its national immunisation programme, despite a political and diplomatic row over whether to use it.

Health Minister Eduardo Pazuello said the federal government had reached a deal with Sao Paulo state, which is helping test and produce the vaccine, to buy 46 million doses to be administered starting in January.

"This vaccine will be Brazil's vaccine," in addition to another developed by Oxford University and pharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca, Mr Pazuello told a video meeting of the South American country's 27 governors.