Geneva: Highlighting its continuing peril around the world even as lockdown restrictions are eased in some parts of Asia and Europe, coronavirus has infected 106,000 people in the last 24 hours - the largest number of cases since its outbreak, the WHO said on Wednesday.
Revealing the alarming numbers at his daily briefing, WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that two-thirds of those cases came from just four countries.
The global tally of cases soared past 50 lakh, with more than 3,26,000 deaths, according to figures collected by Johns Hopkins University's Coronavirus Resource Centre.
Latin America has overtaken the United States and Europe in the past week to report the largest portion of new daily cases globally.
It represents a new phase in the virus' spread, which initially peaked in China in February, before large-scale outbreaks followed in Europe and the United States.
Latin America accounted for around a third of the 91,000 cases reported earlier this week. Europe and the United States each accounted for just over 20%.
A large number of those new cases came from Brazil, which recently surpassed Germany, France and the United Kingdom to become the third-largest outbreak in the world, behind the United States and Russia.
Cases in Brazil are now rising at a daily pace second only to the United States.
The first 41 cases of coronavirus were confirmed in Wuhan, China, on January 10 and it took the world until April 1 to reach its first million cases. Since then, about 1 million new cases are reported every two weeks, according to a Reuters tally.
The virus has infected more people in under six months than the annual total of severe flu cases, which the World Health Organization estimates is around 30 lakh to 50 lakh globally.
The pandemic has claimed over 3,26,000 lives, though the true number is thought to be higher as testing is still limited and many countries do not include fatalities outside of hospitals. Over half of the total fatalities have been recorded in Europe.
Despite the continued increase in cases, many countries are opening schools and workplaces following weeks of lockdown that have stemmed the spread.
Financial markets have also been boosted slightly by promising early results from the first US vaccine trial in humans.
(With inputs from IANS and Reuters)