Deaths from the Covid-19 pandemic in Italy rose by 636 on Monday, more than 100 higher than the previous daily tally of 525, the Civil Protection Agency said, but the number of new cases fell sharply.

The total death toll since the outbreak came to light on 21 February came to 16,523, the highest in the world.

The total number of confirmed cases increased by 3,599 to 132,547, the lowest daily rise since 17 March, underscoring hopes that the illness might be on the retreat thanks to a nationwide lockdown introduced on 9 March.

Before Monday, daily increases since St Patrick's Day had all been in a range of 4,050 to 6,557.

Of those originally infected, 22,837 were declared recovered on Monday against 21,815 a day earlier. There were 3,898 people in intensive care, down 79 on Sunday - a third successive daily decline.