Almost 40 per cent of coronavirus cases in Europe require hospital treatment, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The body's regional director for Europe Dr Hans Henri Kluge gave a breakdown of the severity of cases in Europe as the number of people with confirmed coronavirus reached 687,236 across 53 countries.

The total includes 52,824 people who have lost their lives after contracting the virus.

Dr Kluge said that the vast majority of coronavirus cases are in those over the age of 60, and that two thirds of patients who have died have been male.

While most cases are mild, nearly 40 per cent require hospital treatment and five per cent are sent to intensive care, he said.

A cyclist crosses one of Berlin's main commercial streets as it stands nearly devoid of evening traffic during the coronavirus crisis

“The burden of severe disease is greater in older people, particularly men and those with underlying health conditions," he told a press briefing today.

"While adults over the age of 60 are at higher risk from complications, the recent death of a five-year-old in the UK and of a 12-year-old in Belgium tell us that in rare cases the disease can also be fatal for children and younger adults.

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“Although the majority of cases remain mild, almost 40 per cent result in hospitalisation and five per cent require intensive care.

"Among those who have lost their lives, two-thirds are male and 95 per cent are over the age of 60."

Dr Kluge said said the majority of people who have died have had one or more underlying health conditions.

He said 66 per cent of patients who died in Europe had cardiovascular disease, while 29 per cent had diabetes and 21 per cent had renal disease.

A nurse prepares with a face mask, gloves and a protective suit before entering a coronavirus ward in Madrid, Spain

Europe "remains very much at the centre of the pandemic" but, while case numbers continue to increase, the daily death toll in Italy and Spain, two of the worst-hit countries globally, is "levelling off", he said.

He said that 15 to 20 days after lockdown restrictions were introduced in Spain "the growth in cases has slowed and rate of new deaths is showing signs of decline".

The same is true for Italy, according to Dr Kluge, and cases are already declining in Germany just 10 days after lockdown measures were introduced.

He said mortality rates were lower in Germany than elsewhere.

"This is linked to a range of factors including operation demography and widespread testing," he said.

Dr Kluge told the conference that seven of the top 10 countries that are most affected by the virus are in Europe.

He also stressed the need for every country to play its part in tackling the pandemic in Europe.

"One country alone cannot tackle or stop this Covid-19 - it has to be done globally in solidarity," he told the conference.

He added that it would be a mistake for countries to "lower their guard" at this time.

"It has to go, like China and Singapore showed, in a gradual way while beefing up capacity.

"It's not about flattening the curve ultimately its about cutting the curve."

There are nearly 1.5million confirmed cases of coronavirus across the world now - around half of which are in Europe.

In the Chinese city of Wuhan, where the outbreak began, restrictions have been gradually lifted following an 11-week lockdown.