The average age of people who died from coronavirus in Italy is 78 - with three in four being men, it has emerged.

New data from the Italian National Health Institute covering 6801 patients who have died reveals that just over 70% are men.

It reveals that less than one in ten of the deceased are over 90.

Around one in seven are under the age of 70.

It comes as the death toll in Italy from coronavirus in the last 24 hours has risen by 919 - the highest daily tally since the pandemic started. There are now 9,134 Italian victims of Covid-19.

The analysis reveals that of those that died, 4789 were men and 2012 were women.

The fact that men were more likely to test positive was first seen in China, where one analysis found a fatality rate of 2.8% in men compared with 1.7% in women. A similar pattern has been seen in France, Germany, Iran and Spain.

READ MORE: Coronavirus in Scotland - How the daily death rate has hit a new high

The latest Italian analysis reveals that around three in four of those who died suffered from two or more chronic diseases. Half had suffered from three or more chronic conditions.

HeraldScotland:

The illnesses included cardiovascular problems, diabetes, respiratory problems and cancer.

Just one in 50 of those who died were healthy people.

The average age of diagnosed Covid-19 patients was 61.

The most common symptoms for those who died were fever (75%), dyspnea or shortness of breath, coughing and diarrhoea.

Respiratory failure was the most commonly observed complication amongst those who died, and occurred in 96.4% of cases.

The typical victim was hospitalised four days after the onset of symptoms and died a further five days later. The time taken from hospitalisation to death took two days longer when the patient had been transferred for resuscitation.

As of March 26, just 1.2% of the 6801 Covid-19 patients were under 50.

Early on smoking was suggested as a likely explanation for why men are hit hardest as the disease compromises lung health. In China nearly 50% of men but only 2% of women smoke.

HeraldScotland:

The smoking hypothesis was backed by a paper, published last month, that found smokers made up about 12% of those with less severe symptoms, but 26% of those who ended up in intensive care or died.

Smoking might also act as an avenue for getting infected in the first place: smokers touch their lips more and may share contaminated cigarettes.

Michael Ryan, executive director of the World Health Organisation’s health emergencies programme said on Friday there was "no question" that the elderly and those with underlying health conditions have been affected much more than other age groups.

"What is really emerging is that this disease, while not fatal, or causing critical disease in the younger age group, it is causing a severe illness in many people," he said.

Dr Maria Van Kernhove, the infectious disease epidemiologist who is WHO's technical lead added: "Every infection of Covid-19 presents an opportunity for onward transmission. Even in younger populations, if you do have mild disease and you think it is no big deal, the big deal is you may transmit it."