Rome/Paris/Spain: Italy on Sunday recorded 368 new deaths from the novel coronavirus, its highest one-day increase to date, taking the total to 1,809, the most outside China.
The number of infections has reached 24,747, a count released to the media by Italy's civil protection service said.
The northern Lombardy region around Milan remained the European epicentre of the pandemic, officially reporting 1,218 deaths, or 67 per cent of the Italian total.
But Sunday also saw the number of deaths in the southeastern Puglia region around the city of Bari double from eight to 16.
Spain on Sunday reported some 2,000 new COVID-19 cases and more than a hundred deaths over the last 24 hours, the latest spike in Europe's second-most affected country after Italy.
The new figures raise Spain's number of coronavirus infections to 7,753 - and its death toll to 288 - after the government imposed a near-total nationwide lockdown, banning people from leaving home except to go to work, get medical care or buy food.
The spike in deaths reported from Spain has pushed the global toll past 6,000, according to an AFP tally compiled from official sources.
The worldwide death toll rose to 6,036, with 159,844 infections after 105 died in Spain. While China remains the country with the most deaths with 3,199, the pandemic is now spreading more rapidly in Europe.
British cases of coronavirus rose 20 per cent to 1,372 in the last 24 hours, while the number of deaths increased to 35 from 21 on Saturday. A total of 40,279 people have been tested in the country.
Vietnam has confirmed four more cases of coronavirus, all among foreign nationals, its health ministry said on Sunday, bringing its total number of cases to 57.
The latest detected patients include a Lithuanian, a German and two British nationals.
There have been no deaths in the country, it said, and 16 of the cases confirmed so far have fully recovered.
Vietnam on Sunday said all passengers coming from or through China, South Korea, the UK and Schengen countries would be compulsorily quarantined and tested for coronavirus.
Australia ordered self-isolation of arriving foreigners and other countries extended entry bans as the world sought to contain the spreading coronavirus. Australia's latest restrictions mirror those announced by neighbouring New Zealand on Saturday.
Several countries imposed bans on mass gathering, shuttered sporting, cultural and religious events, while medical experts urged people to practice "social distancing" to curb the spread.
All of Pope Francis' Easter services next month will be held without the faithful attending, the Vatican said on Sunday, in a step believed to be unprecedented in modern times.
The services, four days of major events from Holy Thursday to Easter Sunday, usually draw tens of thousands of people to sites in Rome and in the Vatican.
Travel restrictions and bans, and a plunge in global air travel, saw further airline cutbacks, with American Airlines Inc planning to cut 75 per cent of international flights through May 6 and ground nearly all its widebody fleet.
China tightened checks on international travellers arriving at Beijing airport on Sunday, after the number of imported new coronavirus infections surpassed locally transmitted cases for a second day in a row.
China, where the epidemic began in December, appears to now face a greater threat of new infections from outside its borders as it continues to slow the spread of the virus domestically.
France will shut shops, restaurants and entertainment facilities from Sunday with its 67 million people told to stay home after confirmed infections doubled in 72 hours.
Starting Sunday, South Korea began to subject visitors from France, Germany, Britain, Spain and the Netherlands to stricter border checks, after imposing similar rules for China, Italy and Iran which have had major outbreaks.
Visitors from those countries now need to download an app to report whether they have symptoms. South Korea has been testing hundreds of thousands of people and tracking potential carriers using cell phone and satellite technology.
(With inputs from Reuters and AFP)