New Delhi: The number of coronavirus deaths globally topped 50,200 on Thursday as the pandemic continues to ravage the United States and Europe, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.
The virus claimed thousands more lives in its relentless march across the globe, with Spain and Britain seeing the highest number of daily deaths yet, despite measures putting more than half of the planet on some form of lockdown.
Reported cases of the COVID-19 respiratory illness caused by the novel coronavirus were approaching one million, with the most cases in the US, followed by Italy and Spain.
World Health Organization (WHO) head Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said there had been a "near exponential growth" in new cases and that the number of infected would hit a million within days.
According to the university's Coronavirus Resource Center, the most deaths have been reported from Italy so far, with 13,915. Spain has reported 10,003 fatalities, ahead of France with 4,032, and China, the epicentre of the virus, with 3,199.
India so far has reported 53 fatalities.
The crisis has put enormous strain on national health care systems and on nurses, doctors and other medical staff working in the most difficult of circumstances.
The number of infections around the world currently stands at 9,81,221, with a bulk of them being reported from the US and Europe. US has reported 2,26,374 confirmed cases so far, Italy 1,15,242, Spain 1,10,238, China 82,432 and Germany 81,728.
Over two lakh people have so far managed to beat the infection, with the most recoveries reported from China, Spain and Germany.
Cases soar in Spain, France
Spain's death toll from the coronavirus rose above 10,000 on Thursday after a record 950 people died overnight, but health officials saw a glimmer of hope with the epidemic slowing in terms of proportional daily increases in infections and deaths.
Spain has the world's second-highest death toll after Italy, but Thursday's one-day toll was the highest for any country since the start of the epidemic.
The number of registered coronavirus cases rose about 8% from Wednesday to 1,10,238, said the ministry. The total deaths rose by just over 10%, about the same rate as the previous day.
However, the daily increase in infections in percentage terms has been slowing gradually since March 25, when reported cases rose by just over 20%.
"There's light at the end of the tunnel," Health Minister Salvador Illa told parliament. "A glimpse of hope: the curve has stabilised. We have reached ... the peak of the curve and we have started the slowdown phase."
Spain has been in a lockdown since March 14, allowing residents to leave their homes only for essential trips. This week it tightened the measures, with only employees in key sectors permitted to travel to and from work.
Meanwhile, France on Thursday reported 471 more deaths in hospital from COVID-19. These figures include only those who died in hospital and not those who died at home or in old people's homes.
(With inputs from agencies)