Italy's daily coronavirus cases hit new daily record of 19,143

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ROME, Oct 23 (Reuters) - Italy has registered 19,143 new coronavirus infections over the past 24 hours, the health ministry said on Friday, the highest daily tally since the start of the country's outbreak and up from the previous record of 16,079 posted on Thursday.

The ministry also reported 91 COVID-related deaths on Friday, against 136 the day before and 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.

A total 37,059 people have now died in Italy because of coronavirus, while 484,869 cases of the disease have been registered to date.

After declining over the summer, infections have accelerated rapidly in the last few weeks and have risen seven-fold since the start of the month.

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 financial capital Milan.

On Friday, Lombardy accounted for 4,916 of the country's new cases. Campania in the south, centred on Naples, was the second-worst hit with 2,280 infections. (Editing by Crispian Balmer)