Italy on Friday reported 627 new deaths from the novel coronavirus, a new grim record that brings the number of total deaths to 4,032, the highest in the world.

The latest figures provided by the Italian Civil Protection Department show that the total number of cases in the country continues to grow, climbing by 14% from Thursday to reach 37,860.

The epicenter the Italian outbreak remains the northern Lombardy region, which counts now 2,549 victims, more than half of the total.

Following urgent calls by local authorities, the government is working on more stringent measures to prevent people from leaving their homes, violating the lockdown rules.

The army has been deployed to support police patrolling streets in some regions in the attempt to avoid infractions.

It now seems almost unavoidable that schools will remain closed well after the initially announced date of April 3, while the opening hours of supermarkets and outdoor activities will be further restricted.COVID-19 emerged in Wuhan, China last December, and has spread to at least 163 countries and territories. The World Health Organization declared the outbreak a pandemic.

Out of more than 254,000 confirmed cases, the death toll now exceeds 10,000, and over 87,000 have recovered, according to data compiled by the U.S.-based Johns Hopkins University.

Despite the rising number of cases, most who become infected suffer only mild symptoms and recover.