italy rome mask
© REUTERS/Remo Casilli
A delivery man wears a protective face mask as he rides a bicycle at Campo de Fiori, in Rome, Italy, March 10, 2020.
Another 168 people in Italy have died of the COVID-19 coronavirus, bringing the death toll to 631, while the total number of cases rose by over ten percent to 10,149. The entire country is locked down in quarantine.

Tuesday's jump in the deaths, from the previous record of 463, represents a 36 percent rise and the largest in absolute numbers since the infection was first noticed on February 21, the Civil Protection Agency said.

Some 877 patients were in intensive care, up from 733 on Monday. The number of patients who recovered has also risen, however, and stood at 1,004 on Tuesday as opposed to 724 the day before.

The rising numbers come on the day the nation-wide quarantine imposed by Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte went into effect, closing off Italy's borders. All public gatherings, including sporting events, have been banned and civilian movement has been restricted. Schools and universities have been shuttered through April 3.

The novel coronavirus, dubbed COVID-19, first appeared in Wuhan, China at the end of 2019. Most of the fatalities worldwide have been in China so far, but Italy and South Korea have been the next hardest-hit. The virus causes severe pneumonia that can be lethal to the elderly and people with underlying medical conditions.