Report by William Feuer
COVID-19 cases surpassed 200,000 worldwide on Wednesday as the new coronavirus continues to spread outside of China, the original epicenter of the outbreak.
The total number of cases now stands at 201,436 as of 7:30 a.m. ET on Wednesday, according to data compiled by John Hopkins. The virus emerged in Wuhan, China in December. It has since spread to most countries around the world, according to the World Health Organization.
Almost half of all cases in the world are in China, but the virus, known as COVID-19, has quickly spread across borders. Last week, the WHO declared that Europe had become the new epicenter of the virus.
“More cases are now being reported [in Europe] every day than were reported in China at the height of its epidemic,” WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.
Italy, where officials have implemented a nationwide lockdown, has reported more than 31,000 cases, according to JHU, and over 2,500 deaths. The virus has infected more than 16,000 people in Iran, JHU’s data shows, and over 13,000 in Spain.
On Jan. 20, four countries, China, Thailand, Japan and South Korea, had reported a total of 282 cases, most of which were in China, according to the WHO.
The WHO declared the virus a global pandemic last week.
“In the past two weeks the number of cases outside China has increased thirteenfold and the number of affected countries has tripled,” Tedros said. “In the days and weeks ahead, we expect to see the number of cases, the number of deaths and the number of affected countries to climb even higher.”
The WHO has criticized responses by some countries for failing to communicate clearly with their population, not taking proactive containment measures and not committing politically to combat the virus.
“Some countries are struggling with a lack of capacity. Some countries are struggling with a lack of resources. Some countries are struggling with a lack of resolve,” Tedros said after declaring the virus a pandemic.
To curb the spread of the virus, governments across the world are closing schools, restricting travel and ordering people to remain in their homes. European leaders agreed Tuesday to close the European Union’s external borders for 30 days. Last week, U.S. President Donald Trump declared a similar travel ban on most European countries.
Italian officials locked down the entire country earlier this month, banning public gatherings, shuttering schools and closing businesses.
This article was first published on CNBC https://www.cnbc.com/2020/03/18/worldwide-coronavirus-cases-top-200000-for-the-first-time.html and is republished with its permission.