-- Death toll rises to 25,549 in Italy, daily recoveries surpass infections;
-- UK starts tracking coronavirus in the general public;
-- Merkel warns German citizens of long-time COVID-19 restrictions;
-- Spain sees a continuous rise in new COVID-19 deaths.
The following are the latest developments of the COVID-19 pandemic in European countries.
ROME -- The daily number of patients who recovered from COVID-19 on Thursday surpassed new infections for the first time in Italy since the pandemic began in the country's northern region late February, according to the latest numbers released by the country's Civil Protection Department.
The death toll on Thursday was 464, bringing the nationwide fatalities to 25,549 since the pandemic first broke out in the northern Lombardy region on Feb. 21.
There were 2,646 new coronavirus infections and 3,033 additional recoveries compared to Wednesday, bringing the nationwide totals to 106,848 and 57,576, respectively.
MADRID -- Spain saw 440 new deaths in the 24-hour period until 9:00 p.m. local time on Wednesday, bringing the total fatalities to 22,157, the Spanish Ministry of Health, Consumer Affairs and Social Services on Thursday.
It is five more than the 435 new deaths reported during the previous 24-hour period and 10 more than the 430 deaths confirmed on Monday.
Infections rose by 4,635, 424 more than on Wednesday, reaching 213,024 in total.
PARIS -- France's COVID-19 death toll reached 21,856 on Thursday, while hospitalizations and the number of patients in intensive care continued to fall, according to the official data released by the Ministry of Health.
A total of 516 people have died in the past 24 hours. At 29,219, the number of hospitalized patients fell for the 15th consecutive day. The number of patients in intensive care also fell to 5,053. A total of 120,804 people infected by COVID-19 have been identified in France since the start of the pandemic on March 1.
France placed the public under lockdown on March 17 to stem the spread of the virus. A gradual exit from confinement is scheduled to start on May 11.
BERLIN -- The rate of new infections with COVID-19 in Germany continued below peak times as the number of confirmed cases increased by 2,352 within one day to 148,046, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) announced on Thursday.
At the height of pandemic in Germany, more than 6,000 new infections were recorded by RKI, the federal government agency for disease control and prevention, on a single day.
The estimated number of people in Germany who had recovered from COVID-19 increased by around 3,800 within a day to some 103,300 on Thursday, according to RKI.
LONDON -- Another 616 people who tested positive for COVID-19 have died in hospitals in Britain as of Wednesday afternoon, bringing the total number of coronavirus-related deaths to 18,738, the Department of Health and Social Care said Thursday.
As of Thursday morning, 138,078 people have tested positive for COVID-19, marking a daily increase of 4,583, said the department.
Earlier in the day, the department said some 20,000 households in England are being contacted to take part in the first wave of a major new government study to track coronavirus in the general population.
THE HAGUE -- The number of confirmed positive tests to the novel coronavirus in the Netherlands increased by 887 in a day to a total of 35,729, the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) announced on Thursday.
Within a period of 24 hours, the number of deaths from COVID-19 rose by 123 to 4,177 and the number of people who are or were admitted to hospital grew by 137 to 10,158.
"The figures for the last few days are still in line with the impression that the measures against the spread of COVID-19 are working," the RIVM stated.
BUCHAREST -- Romania has reported 386 new COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 10,096, local authorities said on Thursday.
Within the past 24 hours, the deaths rose by 19 to 527, according to the Strategic Communication Group (GCS), the government agency authorized to publish information on COVID-19.
Meanwhile, 2,406 recoveries have been reported so far, while 288 patients are being treated in intensive care units, the GCS added.
HELSINKI -- Two Finnish research groups are developing vaccines against novel coronavirus, one of which is likely to begin human trials before midsummer this year, Finnish daily Helsingin Sanomat reported on Thursday.
One project, led by Kalle Saksela, professor of virology at the University of Helsinki, and Seppo Yla-Herttula, academy professor at the University of Eastern Finland, aims to develop a nasal spray vaccine.
"At the moment, very similar types of products are being put into healthy volunteers. Technically, we are on the same stage in early summer. Our own vaccine is ready to be tested before midsummer," said Saksela at an interview with Helsingin Sanomat.