The number of novel coronavirus cases worldwide passed 2.4 million late Sunday, according to a running tally by US-based Johns Hopkins University.

The university's data showed the number of deaths has reached 165,044 while 623,911 have fully recovered.

A total of 2,401,379 confirmed cases have been recorded worldwide.

The US continues to be the worst hit with the highest number of infections and deaths at more than 759,000 and nearly 41,000, respectively.

Italy has the second-highest death toll at 23,660 while Spain has the second highest number of cases at 198,674.

The virus has spread to 185 countries and regions since it first emerged in Wuhan, China in December.

The coronavirus primarily attacks the lungs and respiratory system. Most people who become infected exhibit moderate symptoms, but it can be especially fatal for the elderly and those with pre-existing conditions like hypertension, diabetes, heart disease and asthma.

Several efforts are being made to develop a vaccine, but most experts believe the milestone will not be crossed for at least another year and possibly up to 18 months.

Despite the rising number of cases, most people who contract the virus suffer mild symptoms before making a recovery.