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It took only a few months for the novel coronavirus to spread to the far corners of the globe, causing devastation nearly everywhere. As the virus surges once again, even in some places that escaped the worst of first wave of infection, case counts in many country have begun to climb rapidly.

Millions of people have died of covid-19, the disease caused by the virus, since it first emerged in Wuhan, China, late last year, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. The true case and death counts are probably far higher than the confirmed tally, due to widespread limitations on testing.

New daily reported cases across the world

At least have been reported since Feb. 29.

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[A detailed look at the virus’s spread through U.S. counties and states]

Despite advances in medical treatments for covid-19 and an unprecedented race to find an effective vaccine, countries have had to resort once again to crude methods like lockdowns that can isolate people and drain economies.

There may be no better option. Some governments are worried that they could face an exponential wave of new cases that would overwhelm their health-care systems. “We are really very close to a tsunami,” Belgian Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke told broadcaster RTL in October.

Where the virus is surging

How the U.S. compares to other regions

The United States, which continues to have the highest number of confirmed cases and deaths globally, appears to have entered a third surge of new cases — having never fully recovered from its first wave.

Experts have warned that as the new cases are not geographically contained, there could be major shortages of supplies and staff as the numerous states are overwhelmed at the same time. “We’re not going to control the pandemic,” White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows told CNN in October.

The size of the outbreaks Brazil, India and Russia are the next largest to that of the United States.

Rates of infection have increased dramatically in some European states as cold weather approaches, prompting governments to make dire warnings and impose tough new restrictions. Some governments say that the spread of the virus is worse than it was in spring, when unexpected outbreaks overwhelmed much of Europe.

“The pandemic is spreading rapidly again, even faster than at the start of it more than half a year ago,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned.

There are some successes. In New Zealand, which closed its borders and ordered people to stay home as a first wave hit in Spring, confirmed infections went down to zero for a time. South Korea, Japan and Taiwan have kept their outbreaks far smaller than those in other parts of the world, which some experts attribute to their early responses and sophisticated tracking and tracing.

Even some of the world’s worst hit nations have seen reprieves. In the early months of the outbreak, China reported more cases than any other country. Its tally of new infections peaked in mid-February and approached zero by mid-March, although questions surround the accuracy of its data.

Wuhan, the virus’s initial epicenter, ground to a standstill in January as the coronavirus spiraled out of control. But after months without a confirmed case of domestic transmission, around 1.4 million children in the city returned to classrooms at the start of September, and crowded events have resumed.

Global hot spots for reported cases per capita

7-day rolling average of daily new reported cases per 100,000 residents

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Note: Only countries with a population of more than 1 million are shown.

The virus has waned in China, and for most of the population, daily life has returned to normal. But concerns about the virus returning have not abated: In October, Chinese authorities ordered mass testing in the Xinjiang city of Kashgar after a suspected outbreak.

After testing around 4.5 million people, they reported they had found 164 asymptomatic cases.

Compare countries by new daily reported cases per 100k

At least have been reported since Feb. 29.

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At least have been reported since Feb. 29.

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Case and death counts by country

CountryReported cases per 100kNew cases in last 7 days per 100kChange in daily cases in last 7 days

[What you need to know about coronavirus]

The worry is that these reprieves may be temporary or, in some cases, just plain lucky. Some nations that avoided the first wave now see huge daily case numbers: The Czech Republic, where residents held a street party to say farewell to the coronavirus in June, had one of the worst outbreaks in the world just a few months later.

Similar situations are playing out in countries in Latin America, South Asia and the Middle East. Argentina, which quickly locked down strictly earlier in the year, is now finding a large increase in cases as the public grew resistant to the negative impact on their lives and resigned to the spread of the virus.

“The majority of people have a feeling of failure that the health measures failed,” Roberto Debbag, the vice president of the Latin American Society of Pediatric Epidemiology, told The Washington Post. “This has increased dramatically in the last three months.”

With holiday seasons approaching, some fear family gatherings could increase the spread of the virus again. In Canada, Thanksgiving celebrations in early October have been tied to outbreaks across the state, despite recommendations from the government to curtail planned get-togethers.

“We need to pay more attention to those settings where we have people coming together for celebrations,” Bonnie Henry, British Columbia’s provincial health officer, said as she announced new restrictions on private gatherings after a weekend of record new cases in late October.

Some governments are pinning their hopes on a successful vaccine by the end of the year. Major trials are underway, but most experts expect a longer wait. On Sept. 4, a WHO spokesman said the organization did not expect “widespread vaccination” until mid-2021.

About this story

Data on deaths and cases comes from The Post reporting and the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. Country population data is from the World Bank. Taiwan population data is from the Taiwan Statistical Bureau.

Lauren Tierney, Joe Fox, Tim Meko, Chris Alcantara, John Muyskens, Shelly Tan, Adrián Blanco, Armand Emamdjomeh, Youjin Shin, Monica Ulmanu, Harry Stevens, Kevin Schaul, Bonnie Berkowitz, Leslie Shapiro, Siobhán O’Grady and Adam Taylor contributed to this report.

Originally published Jan. 22.