GENEVA/ROME -  Italy reported 345 new coronavirus deaths in the country over the last 24 hours taking its total death toll to 2,503 - an increase of 16 percent.

The total number of cases in Italy rose to 31,506 from a previous 27,980, up 12.6 percent - the slowest rate of increase since the contagion came to light on February 21. Italy is the European country hardest hit by coronavirus.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has described the coronavirus pandemic as the"defining global health crisis of our time", and urged countries to test all suspected cases of COVID-19.

Globally, the virus has infected 184,976 people and killed just over 7,500, according to the WHO. Almost 80,000 people have recovered from the infection, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University.(FA)