The number of officially reported coronavirus cases worldwide topped the one million mark on Thursday, signifying a sharp acceleration in the number of infections and deaths over the past few weeks as the COVID-19 pandemic spreads exponentially.

What do the latest figures tell us?

At least 1,000,036 infections have been reported worldwide and 51,178 deaths, according to an AFP tally on Thursday at 19:00 GMT.

In the past seven days, as many new cases have been diagnosed around the world as in the 86 days previously. The number of reported deaths has doubled since March 27. To date, at least 186,000 people are considered to have recovered from the disease.

The sharp acceleration in the number of infections mean that the pandemic is now spreading at an alarming rate.

Europe is currently the epicentre of the pandemic, with a total of 542,191 cases and 37,715 deaths, equivalent to 54 percent and 73 percent of the respective global totals.

On March 7, the number of cases in Europe had stood at fewer than 10,000.

The spread has been accelerated over the past few weeks. In just over 10 days, the number of deaths has increased seven-fold, topping 37,000 on April 2.

But the situation in the United States is even more alarming.

As of March 27, it was the hardest-hit country in the world in terms of the number of infections.

On March 2, the US had officially registered only 68 infections, but now has more than 234,000. Since March 28 - in only five days - the number of cases has doubled.

And the number of deaths is following the same trajectory: the first death was reported in the US on March 1, but the toll rose to 5,607 on Thursday. That represents a doubling in the last three days alone.

Highest mortality in Italy, Spain

Only Italy and Spain have higher death tolls.

Italy registered 115,242 cases and 13,915 deaths, while Spain reported 110,238 infections and 10,003 fatalities.

All three countries now have more cases than China, the country where the coronavirus first emerged late last year, but where the numbers have slowed markedly over the past month. China has a total 81,589 cases and 3,318 deaths, including just 31 in the past week.

Out of every 100 deaths in Europe, nearly 36 were registered in Italy and 27 in Spain.

But the confinement measures that both countries have implemented in a bid to stem the spread of COVID-19 finally appear to be bearing fruit. Two weeks ago, the number of reported cases in Italy was increasing at a daily rate of 15 percent.

But that has slowed to less than five percent in the past few days. In the last 24 hours alone, only 18 new patients were admitted to intensive care in the country.

In Spain, the daily growth rate in the number of infections now stands at eight percent, compared with 15-20 percent last week.

In Europe and the rest of the world, the other countries hardest hit are France with 73,743 cases and 5,387 deaths (including those reported in old people's homes); Iran with 50,468 cases and 3,160 deaths; Britain with 33,718 cases and 2,921 deaths; the Netherlands with 14,697 and 1.339; Belgium with 15,348 and 1,011; Germany with 73,522 and 872; Switzerland with 18,194 and 431; and Turkey with 18,135 and 356 respectively.

Africa, despite its huge population of 1.3 billion, has so far only recorded 6,804 cases and 273 deaths. The only continent that has even fewer is Oceania with 5,949 cases and 27 deaths.

In Latin America and the Caribbean, the number of infections topped the 20,000 mark on Wednesday and stood at 23,133 on Thursday, including 653 deaths.

The Middle East reported 64,083 cases and 3,306 deaths and the whole of Asia registered 112,356 cases and 4,003 deaths.

The tally has been compiled using data from AFP bureaus, as well as statistics from the relevant national authorities and from the World Health Organization.

© Agence France-Presse