Staffers sanitize the Samaritan's Purse field hospital that is being set up in Cremona, northern Italy, Friday, March 20, 2020. A Christian evangelical group headed by the son of the late televangelist Billy Graham has sent a field hospital to northern Italy to tend to coronavirus patients, joining China in offering aid to Italy's overwhelmed health care system.
Staffers sanitize the Samaritan's Purse field hospital that is being set up in Cremona, northern Italy, Friday, March 20, 2020. A Christian evangelical group headed by the son of the late televangelist Billy Graham has sent a field hospital to northern Italy to tend to coronavirus patients, joining China in offering aid to Italy's overwhelmed health care system.
AP/PTI

Italy has surpassed China as the country with the most deaths from coronavirus as California, home to more than 39 million people, was placed under lockdown in the most drastic containment measure yet by a US state.

The death toll soared in Europe as Italy announced another 427 fatalities on Thursday, taking its total to 3,405, according to a tally compiled by AFP from official sources.

China has officially reported 3,245 deaths from the virus, which can cause respiratory failure, particularly in the elderlY

Trump blames China

Trump, who has come under fire for his response to the crisis, charged Thursday that the world was paying for China's lack of transparency about the outbreak there.

"It could have been contained to that one area of China where it started. And certainly the world is paying a big price for what they did," he said.

Trump said US authorities were fast-tracking antimalarials chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine for use as a coronavirus treatment, making them available "almost immediately." The drugs are synthetic forms of quinine, which has been used to treat malaria for centuries.

As the toll surged in Italy, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said the national lockdown, which has been copied around Europe, would be prolonged to April 3.

Also falling victim to the pandemic was the G7 summit in June, which was meant to be hosted by Trump at the Camp David presidential retreat near Washington. The group of seven wealthy democracies will now meet via videoconference.

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