More people have died from covid-19 in the United States and in several other countries than were reported killed in China, where the outbreak of the disease caused by the new coronavirus originated last year.
On March 31, roughly a week after the epicenter of the outbreak had clearly moved from Asia to the west, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called the pandemic “the most challenging crisis we have faced since the Second World War.”
The disease, which can trigger severe respiratory symptoms, has been reported on every continent except Antarctica and in at least 180 countries. Some countries are confirming thousands of new cases each day, led by the United States, where testing was slow to begin. The World Health Organization declared covid-19 a pandemic on March 11.
The U.S. total of reported cases is by far the highest in the world. Covid-19 has been confirmed in every state and in most U.S. territories. As more tests are performed, many states are seeing rapid growth in the number of known cases.
For months China had more reported cases than any other country, but its tally of new infections peaked in mid-February and approached zero by mid-March. The country is seeing new cases as travelers return from abroad.
As the disease waned in China, it began to surge through Europe, and by late March, more people had died from the virus in Italy and Spain than in China.
Chinese health officials said the new virus strain emerged from a market that sold wild animals in the Hubei province’s capital city of Wuhan.
Coronaviruses range from some common cold viruses to those that cause much more serious diseases, including severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS). Some strains spread more efficiently than others; the virus that causes covid-19 seems to spread easily from person to person, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Number of cases data WHO, CDC, NHC and Dingxiangyuan, collected by Johns Hopkins University.
*U.S. flu season estimates are preliminary and based on data from the CDC’s weekly influenza surveillance reports summarizing key influenza activity indicators.
Lauren Tierney, Joe Fox, Tim Meko, Chris Alcantara, John Muyskens, Shelly Tan, Adrián Blanco, Armand Emamdjomeh, Youjin Shin, Monica Ulmanu, Harry Stevens, Kevin Schaul and Bonnie Berkowitz contributed to this report.
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An earlier version of this graphic included Hong Kong cases that were being monitored.
About this story
Originally published Jan. 22, 2020.