Hundreds of thousands have died and millions of cases have been reported worldwide in the covid-19 pandemic, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. The WHO declared South America as the new epicenter of the global pandemic, as known case counts and recorded deaths continue to climb in the region.

Several countries are confirming thousands of new cases of covid-19 each day, led by the Brazil and the United States, where testing was slow to begin.

On March 31, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called the pandemic “the most challenging crisis we have faced since the Second World War.”

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The disease, which can trigger severe respiratory symptoms, has been reported on every continent except Antarctica and in at least 180 countries. 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.

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

In the early months, China, where the outbreak originated last year, 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.

While the virus appears to have plateaued or declined in much of Europe, many countries in South America, South Asia and the Middle East have reported increases in the number of cases.

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As the disease waned in China, it began to surge in Italy and Spain. By May, more than 150,000 people had died throughout Europe.

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.

[Graphic: How epidemics like covid-19 end (and how to end them faster)]

Number of cases data collected by Johns Hopkins University. U.S. reported cases and deaths are from Johns Hopkins University and Post reporting.

*On April 4, Johns Hopkins University began to include some 22,000 cases from French nursing homes that had previously been absent from their data, accounting for much of the spike in cases on that day, according to Le Monde.

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.