The coronavirus pandemic reached another grim milestone on Friday, with the global death toll reaching nearly 25,000 less than 24 hours after COVID-19 was confirmed to have infected half a million people, according to the data from Johns Hopkins University.

Italy has so far paid the highest price, with over 8,200 deaths since the outbreak began, most of them in less than a month.

The human cost of the disease is also laid bare in Spain, where more than 4,800 people have succumbed to the disease. Friday saw the daily death toll record surpassed again with a staggering 769 deaths in 24 hours.

China, the first victim of the scourge, bears a death toll of over 3,200, but that figure is unlikely to rise in the foreseeable future, as the virus has all but dissipated in the country.

More than 2,300 people have also lost their lives in Iran, where the authorities say they are bracing for a renewed wave of infections after the Nowruz new years saw some - comparatively reduced - travel across the country.

The death toll in the United States has reached 1,300, but with a sharply rising rate of infection and a patchwork of different mitigation approaches on the federal and states levels, that number is likely to grow.

Germany appears to be an outlier among its European neighbours, where the death rate of 281 from over 47,000 cases is a case-fatality ratio of about 0.5 percent.

Germany’s death toll numbers currently puzzle scientists and an answer to the conundrum has yet to be found.