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The number of confirmed coronavirus cases across the globe reached one million on Thursday, according to tracking by Johns Hopkins University.
There have been more than 50,000 reported deaths from the virus so far, including thousands in the United States, China, Iran and large numbers in such European countries as Italy, Spain, France and the United Kingdom. Roughly half of the world’s population has been in some kind of lockdown or settle-in-place order to limit movement and the spread of the pandemic, including all of India’s 1.3 billion people.
The virus causes the respiratory disease COVID-19, which is characterized by fever, coughing and breathing difficulty and can progress to pneumonia. It is particularly deadly to those with certain underlying health conditions. While the mortality rate of the virus is relatively low compared to some other emergent infectious diseases such as SARS or Ebola, it spreads much more readily. Treatment of the worst symptoms can require weeks on a ventilator, straining the resources of hospitals where localized outbreaks occur.
At the end of December, authorities in Wuhan, China confirmed that they had been treating dozens of cases of a new virus. The Chinese government reported the first death caused by the virus on January 11 and by January 20 a number of countries — United States, Japan, South Korea and Thailand — have their first confirmed cases per a World Health Organization situation report.
On January 23, the city of Wuhan, with a population of 11 million, was cordoned off from the rest of the country by Chinese officials who canceled outbound flights and trains. But a little over a week later on February 2 the first death outside of China occurred, a 44-year-old man in the Philippines. On February 7, Wen liang, a Chinese doctor who tried to raise the alarm early on — and was targeted by the police died of the virus.
On February 11 the disease got its official name from WHO: Covid-19, short for coronavirus disease 2019.
Three days later, the first reported death from the virus occurred in Europe, when an 80-year-old Chinese tourist died in Paris. On the same day, a case was confirmed in Egypt, the first in Africa.
On Feb. 19, Iran announced two cases in the country, then hours later relayed that both patients had died. The virus hit the Middle Eastern country particularly hard, and by early March they were temporarily releasing thousands of prisoners and at least 24 members of their parliament had tested positive for the virus.
Late February is also when Italy began to lock down certain regions after facing a surge in cases. Among the areas affected was Milan, whose annual Fashion Week festivities coincided with the country’s first reported death from the virus on Feb. 22. An Italian contractor traveling from Milan to Lagos, Nigeria later became the first confirmed case in Africa’s most populous country.
On Feb. 26, the first case was confirmed in Latin America 61-year-old man tested positive in Brazil. The next day the first coronavirus-related death was recorded in the U.S. when a patient near Seattle succumbed to the disease. On March 11, the WHO officially declared the virus a pandemic and two days later President Trump declared a national emergency in the U.S.
Over 171 countries currently have had at least one confirmed case.
Click here for the latest coronavirus news and updates. According to experts, people over 60 and those who are immunocompromised continue to be the most at risk. If you have questions, please reference the CDC and WHO’s resource guides.