The coronavirus pandemic has claimed more than 30,000 lives in Europe alone, a global tally showed yesterday, in what the head of the United Nations has described as humanity's worst crisis since World War II.
Italy and Spain bore the brunt of the crisis, accounting for three in every four deaths on the continent, as the grim tally hit another milestone even though half of the planet's population is already under some form of lockdown in a battle to halt contagion.
Spain reported a record 864 deaths in 24 hours, pushing the country's number of fatalities past 9,000.
The toll is only dwarfed by Italy's, where the virus has killed nearly 12,500 people. Italy yesterday reported 727 fresh deaths.
Britain reported 563 daily coronavirus deaths yesterday, the first time the national toll has exceeded 500, bringing the total fatalities to 2,352, according to official figures.
"As of 5pm (1600 GMT) on 31 March, of those hospitalised in the UK who tested positive for coronavirus, 2,352 have sadly died," the health ministry said on its official Twitter page.
Since emerging in China in December, Covid-19 has spread across the globe, claiming over 43,000 lives and infecting more than 860,000 people, according to an AFP tally.
President Donald Trump has warned of a "very, very painful two weeks" as the United States registered its deadliest 24 hours of what he called a "plague".
In a scramble to halt the contagion, governments have shut schools, most shops, and ordered millions of people to work from home.
For UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, the extraordinary upheaval spurred by the virus presents a real danger to the relative peace the world has seen over the last few decades.
The disease "represents a threat to everybody in the world and... an economic impact that will bring a recession that probably has no parallel in the recent past," he said.
"The combination of the two facts and the risk that it contributes to enhanced instability, enhanced unrest, and enhanced conflict are things that make us believe that this is the most challenging crisis we have faced since the Second World War."
In Italy, queues were lengthening at soup kitchens while some supermarkets were reportedly pillaged.
Half a million more people now need help to afford meals, Italy's biggest union for the agriculture sector Coldiretti said, adding to the 2.7 million already in need last year.