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Monica Carfora, right, deputy head of the emergency of the Santo Spirito Hospital, which now has a separate emergency for possible covid patients, holds a chocolate Easter egg as she poses for a photograph with nurse Silvia Sforza, holding out their arms to indicating social distancing, outside the entrance to for COVID-19 emergency, in central Rome, Sunday. Image Credit: AP

Paris: More than 75,000 people have died from the coronavirus in Europe, with 80 percent of the fatalities occurring in Italy, Spain, France and Britain.

With a total of 75,011 deaths from 909,673 infections, Europe is the hardest-hit continent in the COVID-19 pandemic, which has killed at least 109,133 people worldwide.

Europe’s most affected country is Italy with 19,468 deaths, followed by Spain with 16,972, France with 13,832 and Britain with 9,875.

Italy reported the most new coronavirus cases in a week and the UK recorded more than 900 deaths for a second straight day, keeping key European countries focused on maintaining lockdowns.

Even as the US passed Italy as the country with the most virus-linked deaths, Saturday’s data offered little encouragement for Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte as he seeks a tentative restart of Italian commercial and public life. Deaths slowed in Spain, Germany and France, suggesting that restrictions are having an effect.

With the UK’s death toll approaching 10,000, government officials said the country is in the early stages of stemming the outbreak. Prime Minister Boris Johnson is still recovering from his infection, and Home Secretary Priti Patel declined to speculate on when restrictions might be eased.

“I don’t think we can emphasize enough is that we’re still in Round One here,” National Health Service England Medical Director Stephen Powis said at a news conference. “We’re still fighting the virus very early on.”

Italy, with the most deaths in Europe, has stepped up screening for the coronavirus in recent days. Confirmed cases increased by 4,694 in the latest 24-hour period, bringing the total to 152,271, Italian officials said Saturday. Deaths increased to 19,468 as the pace of fatalities accelerated from the previous day.

Conte on Friday extended Italy’s lockdown measures until May 3, while announcing waivers for a small range of businesses and shops. Opening the Door

A limited number of employees in Italy, Spain and elsewhere will be allowed to return to work in the days ahead to prevent mass bankruptcies and unemployment. Workers will have to follow strict health protocols in factories and stores, maintaining social distancing and washing hands frequently.

Austria, Denmark and Norway are also taking initial steps toward returning to normal.