The number of coronavirus cases in the northern region of Lombardy, which includes Italy's financial capital Milan, increased by about 2,500 on Thursday, regional governor Attilio Fontana said.
"Unfortunately, today's figures are not good. There has been a more pronounced increase compared to the previous days," Fontana told reporters. The governor was isolated last month, long before the closure of Italy, after an assistant tested positive for the virus.
The number of cases in the region, which has suffered the brunt of the contagion from Italy, rose by about 1,643 to about 32,346 on Wednesday.
The region had seen a sharp decline in the number of deaths on Wednesday, raising hopes that the epidemic is slowing down.
However, optimism was tempered by warnings in southern Italy, where contagion and deaths are much less widespread, but are constantly increasing and could overwhelm a health service that is much less equipped than in the wealthy north.
"At this point there is a real possibility that the Lombardy tragedy is about to become the southern tragedy," wrote Vincenzo De Luca, president of the Campania region around Naples, in an open letter to Prime Minister Giuseppe. Conte.
"We are on the eve of a great expansion of infections that may not be sustainable," he said, complaining that the central government had not provided Campania with the promised ventilators and other life-saving equipment.