New York (Agencies): Global coronavirus cases on late Thursday surpassed one million as the pandemic exploded in the United States and the death toll continued to climb in Italy and Spain.
The virus has claimed over 51,000 lives in its relentless march across the globe, with the largest number of deaths in Italy, followed by Spain and the US, despite measures putting more than half of the planet on some form of lockdown.
The global fatality rate is now over 5pc of all reported cases, with countries, including the United Kingdom, the US and Spain reporting a spike in fatalities over recent days.
The first 100,000 cases were reported in around 55 days and the first 500,000 in 76 days. Cases doubled to 1 million within the past eight days.
Around 22pc of total cases has been reported by the US, while Italy and Spain have each reported 11pc of global cases. China, where the virus emerged in December, has reported 8pc of total cases globally as the epicentre of the pandemic moved to Europe and the US.
Total cases reported by Thursday grew 10 per cent from a day earlier, the first time the rate has hit double digits since the virus took hold outside China.
There are 117 countries and territories that have reported over 100 cases, 50 with outbreaks of over 1,000 and seven that have reported 50,000 or more Covid-19 cases, mainly in Europe.
Europe together accounts for over half of cases and more than 70pc of deaths linked to the virus, as countries in Southern Europe with higher older age demographics have been hit particularly hard. The pandemic continued to wreak havoc on the global economy, with the US announcing that a record 6.65 million workers filed for unemployment benefits last week and Spain reporting its biggest monthly increase in jobless claims ever. World Health Organisation head Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said there had been a “near exponential growth” in new cases.
Europe has been at the centre of the crisis for weeks, with at least 37,000 now dead, but there have been signs the epidemic could be approaching its peak.
Spain, with 950 new deaths in 24 hours, and Britain, with 569 deaths, saw record numbers of new fatalities on Thursday. France recorded 471 hospital deaths, down from the previous day, but also announced a new figure of 884 deaths in old people’s homes since the epidemic began. Italy registered 760 new deaths, with its numbers continuing to fall.