Italy reported 683 new deaths on Wednesday, bringing its national tally to 7503. 

There were 5210 new cases confirmed, slightly fewer than Tuesday’s 5249.

The total number of confirmed cases in Italy since the outbreak began in late February has now passed 74,000.

Italy registered fewer cases on Wednesday than the US (5797) or Spain (5552) according to the latest data.

Spain, meanwhile, recorded more than 700 deaths over the past 24 hours – surpassing China in the global death toll – making the country now second to only Italy.

Some 9000 people in Italy who had been infected with the virus have now recovered, according to official data.

The world is watching closely for evidence that the numbers of cases and deaths in Italy are dropping and that its drastic nationwide quarantine measures implemented just over two weeks ago have begun to take effect.

Hopes were sparked after the number of deaths dropped for two consecutive days on Sunday and Monday.

But Tuesday’s daily toll was the second-highest recorded in Italy since the outbreak began.

However, while the number of cases continues to rise daily, it has now been slowing down for four consecutive days.

Experts have predicted the number of cases will peak in Italy at some point from this week onwards – perhaps in early April – though many point out that regional variations and other factors make it difficult to predict.