Coronavirus: Half a million COVID-19 cases confirmed worldwide

Civil Defence members carry a patient on a stretcher as they arrive at the Severo Ochoa hospital in Leganes, on March 26, 2020. - Spain's coronavirus death toll surged above 4,000 today but the increase in both fatalities and new infections slowed, leaving officials hopeful a nationwide lockdown is starting to curb the spread of the disease. A total of 655 deaths were recorded in the country in the last 24 hours, bringing the toll to 4,089, the health ministry said. (Photo by JAVIER SORIANO / AFP) (Photo by JAVIER SORIANO/AFP via Getty Images)

Half a million people worldwide have now been infected by the coronavirus.

The figure was reached as the US passed Italy and China to record the highest number of confirmed COVID-19 cases at more than 82,000.

Italy has reported 80,589 confirmed cases, according to Johns Hopkins University, while China has recorded more than 81,000.

Italy is now fewer than 1,200 cases behind China - where COVID-19 first emerged in December.

China has seen a huge slowdown in new cases as the disease widens its spread across Europe and the US.

There are now 56,347 confirmed cases in Spain and 43,646 in Germany, part of the top five countries globally.

The Italian Civil Protection Agency announced the country's latest infection numbers on Thursday - the biggest daily increase in the number of cases since 21 March.

Of those originally infected nationwide, 10,361 are now said to have fully recovered - up from 9,362.

:: Listen to All Out Politics on Apple Podcasts , Google Podcast s , Spotify , Spreaker

There are 3,612 people in intensive care, up from a previous 3,489, and the hardest-hit northern region of Lombardy reported a steep rise in fatalities compared with Wednesday and remains in a critical situation.

Lombardy has now reported 4,861 deaths and 34,889 cases, up from 4,474 and 32,346 on Wednesday.

Italy remains the country with the highest number of total deaths with COVID-19.

Johns Hopkins University reported 8,215 deaths in the country as of 11pm on Thursday.

Italy's Civil Protection Agency said earlier on Thursday there had been 8,165 deaths.

There have now been 4,154 fatalities in Spain.

That puts it above the 3,169 deaths in China's Hubei province - the original epicentre of the outbreak.

Iran has reported 2,234 deaths and France has confirmed 1,696.

No other countries have a death count in four figures, with the UK next along with 578 .